Calm and professional: Human centric lighting sets the tone throughout the new VicRoads Ringwood Customer Hub, Melbourne
How do we want to work today? Over the past years, the requirements for modern working environments have changed rapidly – flexibility and comfort have become key factors when designing workspaces at the pulse of time. At the 14,000sqm new-build VicRoads Ringwood Customer Hub, with more than 1,000 public visits per week, service facilities are often bustling. Key to making the facility effective was to instil a sense of professionalism, calm and welcome.
According to Laurent Deleu, of multi-faceted engineering consultancy ADP, there was a major challenge his team faced in designing the lighting for the multiple office spaces: meeting the changing needs of the workplace environment and contemporary customer service, whilst adhering to tight sustainability targets set by the department for the entire project. ERCO’s human centric approach to lighting was the key. By incorporating lighting design into the architectural plan at the very earliest stages, they were able to deliver light of the right colour temperature and brightness exactly where the people using the space needed it, using fewer luminaires. “All light fittings chosen are flicker-free, high quality and highly efficient LEDs. They are controllable via a programmable, fully addressable lighting control and management system. Pre-set programs have been implemented along with presence detection to ensure lights are only on when needed. Distinct areas incorporate lighting control panels, and perimeter lighting adjacent to windows is connected to daylight sensors.”
Light for the way we work
The predominance of screen-based activity has changed the nature of work entirely. US research in 2022 found we now spend approximately 13 hours per day on screens – a considerable part of which is in the office. This work, conducted at a desk, demands looking ahead at a back-lit screen rather than down onto a desk surface. Bright walls have always played an important role in defining space, but with this change in the way we work, they are more important in an office space than ever. By keeping walls uniformly bright – as ADP have done here with ERCO Recessed Compact wallwashers – the screen-to-rear contrast is reduced, which is easier on the eyes.
Two further benefits of a perimeter lighting scheme are the ability to light what is on the wall – in this case whiteboards for brainstorming, storage cupboards, and artwork – and effective orientation. Vertical illuminance contributes significantly to the impression of brightness in a space and aids visual tasks in the vertical plane.
Accent lighting onto work surfaces remains an important complement to the ambience created by wallwashing. ADP chose ERCO Jilly Downlights for track, for flexibility, light quality, and glare-free louvre optics. Linear track with Jilly is installed above the permanent workstations in the open-plan office space; a complete rectangle of track means Jilly luminaires in the collaboration space can be moved around according to the needs of the users. This future-proofs the space should requirements change in keeping with the department’s commitments to sustainability and whole-of-life product use.
Starting from scratch on this new-build, ADP had the luxury of instilling cohesiveness into the lighting design. Light colour temperature and strength are consistent as you move throughout the space. As ADP’s Michael Abdilia adds, “Concealed light fittings and light sources create a high level of visual comfort, important to maintain staff wellbeing.”
Even dedicated spaces continue the aesthetic of the main office. The combination of vertical lighting, flexible ambient lighting and accent lighting can be easily adapted to special lighting tasks and activity: in the Board Room, Jilly for track illuminates the table surface gently while Optec spotlights define the traffic areas. To line the locker room, a small but super-clever inclusion in the end-of-trip facilities is the use of double focus Compact wallwashers. This allows you to illuminate two opposite walls with just one fixture. Clean, useful light is directed on the lock mechanisms and locker contents, but the absence of direct light from above leaves the space comfortable for staff to chat and enjoy their casual moments at either end of the day.
The selected lighting design delivers the quintessential layers of light defined by Richard Kelly. Parscan wallwashers for track and discreet recessed Compar downlights provide general ambient light. Additional Parscan spotlights accent the service staff work surfaces as well as handy standing desks where customers can complete paperwork.
In conclusion, Deleu compares the outcomes for VicRoads with office lighting typical of the last 50 years. “Challenging the typical lighting approach was uncomfortable, but working with ERCO and visiting some exemplar projects helped cement that this was the right approach for VicRoads and lighting offices for the 21st century.” Excellent public feedback and a happy client prove that this was indeed public money, well spent.