Creating a blank canvas at The Pelligon

The new owners of an events space in London have created a venue where event organisers have the freedom to let their imaginations run riot. Paul Milligan reports.

After 21 years of hosting events in the Canary Wharf area of London, it was decided that the East Wintergarden venue was in need of a refresh. This is where Broadwick Group, the operator of London venues Printworks and Drumsheds, enters the story. Renamed The Pelligon, the new name is mix of the original architect César Pelli, and the name for a 360-degree angle, a Perigon, to signify the venue’s 360-degree views across London.

Located adjacent to Canary Wharf station, it is perfectly suited to hosting events from the many financial companies nearby but because it has a range of easy travel options into central London, it is attracting interest from across the capital. The rebirth began in September 2022 when Broadwick Group signed a 20-year lease with the Canary Wharf Group.

Sophie Bailey, managing director for Vibration Production (part of Broadwick Group) takes up the story, “We'd been talking to Canary Wharf Group about lots of other opportunities in Canary Wharf. The opportunity for East Wintergarden reared its head and we jumped at the chance. We were handed the keys almost straightaway which was a whirlwind, but it allowed us to understand the kind of events that were incoming and the typically types of repeat clients they had been servicing for years. The general consensus was that access was great but the fit out was dated. What most clients wanted was a blank canvas, much like Magazine London (in Greenwich) which was a purpose built events space we launched in 2018. Brands love it because it’s a big black box, so we tried to replicate that as best we could with the Pellligon.”

It certainly is an impressive space, with a cathedral-like glass dome roof, and a 27-metre floor-to-ceiling high glass arc frontage. Because it was handed the keys to the venue straight away Broadwick had the space for 18 months before the relaunch. As part of the lease agreement, it had to deliver the remaining events on the schedule while coming up with a plan with its product development team for how it would look and operate going forward. Broadwick Group was able to look internally for AV advice on the refurb, as it also owns live events provider Vibration Production. Once it has serviced the last bookings, the site was closed for three months for refurbishments and the last pieces of the upgrade of the production facilities began.

So what were the initial challenges in turning a 21-year old space into a venue for the next 10 years and beyond? “It was built as an events space, but the infrastructure in place wasn’t what you would see in a permanent installation, it felt like a long-term rental (of kit). What we've done now is put some permanent infrastructure in place,” says Spyros Fasegkas, production operations manager for Vibration Production.

Was Vibration able to keep anything from the time where it was over-seeing the last events as the East Wintergarden? “A lot of the technical kit there, which included an old 4:3 screen and some lighting fixtures, were from the 2000s, so we did some upgrades as we needed to have the venue up and running. We tried a lot of things while we had different bookings to come up with the end result we wanted to create,” explains Fasegkas. During the last six months of the East Wintergarden, the development team was working on the concepts and the designs for the Pelligon, with Fasegkas and the production team simultaneously working on the procurement of equipment during the same period.

Event spaces for hire in The Pelligon include a main hall, capable of holding up to 400 people for dinner, or 1,000 people standing, and an additional mezzanine area which can hold up to 250 for a drinks reception. The architecture of The Pelligon is one its most attractive features says Bailey, “It’s a space to be seen, it's essentially a glass box with 360-degree views.”

While all that glass and stunning architectural design may be great at attracting event planners, floor-to-ceiling glass isn’t an ideal scenario for running audio systems throughout a venue. The first step to fixing this was to get the building acoustically treated says Fasegkas, “The previous floor was marble and now it is rubber with some layers of wood underneath, which have helped the acoustics a lot. On the top of that, the two big staircases helped a lot to absorb sound, the walls have a wooden mesh and they're full of holes, so they absorb sound too. We have achieved the same effect with new handrails in the mezzanine, so a lot of reflections have been absorbed, and the reflection time is pretty low considering it’s a huge building almost 30 metres high. The acoustic mesh has been placed internally in front of the glass, which has been helped a lot, and the new sound system (a mix of L-Acoustics units) we installed helps a lot with the distribution of the sound in the venue too.”

The choice of L-Acoustics was based on two principal factors, its audio quality and the fact that Vibration Group had used it before in other venues. The L-Acoustic system consists of Kara, A10 and X8 loudspeakers, SB18 subwoofers, and LA4X amplifiers.

All the audio at The Pelligon runs on a Dante network, why did Fasegkas make that particular choice? “It’s for control, but it’s also a cost effective way of doing it instead of running long multi cables. For redundancy we have a multi XLR cable that goes to the back of stage and back to the control desk. But Dante gives us the flexibility around the network and meant we could utilise the existing desk. We’re using a Yamaha Q1 desk, which is 16-channel desk with eight outputs, we also have a Yamaha Rio Dante interface that can be added or removed, depending on the needs. Dante as a product has been getting tested and tested over the last decade, so it’s super reliable and gives us the flexibility to add and remove things fairly quickly.”

The display technology found in the main hall is Absen 3.9mm Polaris LED tiles. Why go for LED instead of blended projection for the main presentation screen/awards backdrop? “The LED screen is the best solution for this venue, as the venue is bright, you wouldn’t want to jeopardise quality by using projectors,” explains Fasegkas. “You can use 20K projectors and you can double stack, but at the same time we want to create an elegant product. That’s why we chose to go with LED. It works very well for a morning conference, but at the same time it’s super bright for an evening event.”

Vibration looked at different LED brands but decided to go with Absen so they could give flexibility to its clients if they ever wanted to extend the screen at any time. “As we have a big stock of Absen panels in our warehouse we use for other venues, the general idea was that by choosing Absen we can easily  extend the screen if clients want to do that,” adds Fasegkas.

The videowall is driven by Novastar receiving cards and processor, and the processor works in conjunction with a Barco 4K SDI switcher. “We  have 4 outputs available from this switch, one is utilised around the screen and then we can utilise the rest to run relay screens or digital signage if needed,” says Fasegkas.

The LED is complimented by a lighting package of Robe Esprite, Robe Spiider, Robe Painte, Robe LEDBeam 350 & Chauvet Colorado Panel Q40 products. The ability to offer a blank
canvas to clients even stretched to matching up the colour of the loudspeakers says Fasegkas. “The delay speakers underneath the mezzanine have been painted white to blend in with the wall, the others we have in the ceiling are black. 

They didn't match so we have covered them with white covers which gives us the flexibility if we need to remove those and use them for another rig we can put them back in and blend with the space.” The desire for a blank canvas also affected the planning of the cabling; “We’ve had exhibitions in the past where we were running cabling and it was occupying a lot of space on the floor, which wasn’t great, so we made the decision to run extra cabling for power in the rig. So now we can drop on the sides of the room and in the middle without having ugly cables on the floor. We put a lot of thought into it in order to create a nice product that will look great for every client. Sometimes in the events industry people have a small budget and they put together an event and they don’t experience the result they should. We tried to make it as much cost effective as we could in order to appeal more clients,” says Fasegkas.
Was there any compromise on the AV budget for The Pelligon? “If you ask me, ideally I would have spent five million pounds,” jokes Fasegkas, “But we didn’t have to compromise because we’d thought about what kind of events we were planning to deliver and what events we’d already delivered, and we were able to test through the period before the refurbishment, and I think we made the right decisions.”

Does the official launch of The Pelligon mean the end of the AV spending? Probably not says Bailey, “What we'll do is review it as we go along and see what's working and what isn't working. We're constantly adding stock items to our warehouse, we have a procurement strategy to bolster the warehouse stock and upgrade our venues across the board.”

While still in its infancy, how have the first few weeks of the relaunch gone down so far? “It’s really exciting, it’s been really well received within the industry and the bookings are starting to flow in,” says Bailey. Word is beginning to spread amongst London party organisers about the rejuvenation of the space, and that will only breed more interest, “Once people see how it's been transformed and how flexible and adaptable the space is now and how brandable and accessible it is,” she adds. “We did a lot of work in that 18 months to understand what clients wanted in this market, we looked at the reasons why they were losing events when they did and rectified all of those things to make it more appealing to the clients.” Having other sites across London also means Broadwick can use The Pelligon to help clients grow naturally says Bailey. “We want to work with clients for the Pelligon and then take them to a bigger space if they grow. We have a lot of examples where we started working with clients where they were small startups and then they become big companies.”


Absen Polaris 3.9mm LED tiles
Avolites Tiger Touch 2 lighting desk
Barco PDS-4K SDI switcher
Chauvet COLORrado Panel Q40 lights
L-Acoustics Kara, A10 and X8 loudspeakers, SB18 subwoofers, and LA4X amplifiers
Netgear M4250-26G4FPOE+ managed network switches
Novastar Vx600 LED video processor
Robe Esprite, Spyder, Beam 350, Robin Pointe lights
Shure lapel mics, AD4Q wireless receivers, SM58 mics
Sonifex AO16R Dante interface
Yamaha QL1 desk, RIO1608-D2 Dante interface

Article Categories

Most Viewed