“We believe in the power of light” is the mantra of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), and their global awards program, the International Lighting Design Awards, is testament to this belief.

One lighting design practice operating in Melbourne and Sydney which has taken up the call of this mantra is Electrolight, and one of their projects, 171 Collins Street Melbourne, recently took an Award of Merit at the IALD Awards.

171 Collins Street was designed by Bates Smart architects and Electrolight were engaged by the firm to design specialist lighting for the ground floor common areas including the entry, lift and main lobbies, atrium, amenities and the Mayfair Building heritage fa├žade.

The ground floor is wrapped by double height travertine stone walls that run from the entry through to the atrium and ground floor lobby.  As the ceiling height is varied, Electrolight needed to call on a variety of different lighting products situated at different heights to achieve their goals of accentuating the texture of the travertine and emphasising the spatial perception of the space.

Where the ceiling was low and recessed light fittings could be applied, Electrolight used a ‘Quintessence Focal Lens Wallwasher’ from ECRO lighting in a wall washing technique. This lighting application casts an even illumination down the travertine wall in the lobby space.

The Ecro 'Quintessence Focal Lens Wallwasher' downlight takes a 70 Wattage MH-Ceramic bulb and has a lumen output of 6900. It can be purchased in Australia from Buckford Illumination Group.

Where the ceiling ledge was minimal, lights had to be surface mounted to walls and a series of narrow beam down lights with spreader lenses were used in a wall grazing technique.

In the atrium space, bisymmetrical flood lights from lighting manufacturer Meyer were the product of choice. Electrolight's Practice Manager Elisha Howard notes that the additional ‘Barn Door’  accessory (seen on the side of the lighting box) was used to baffle the light so that spill did not occur on surfaces other than the travertine.

The 'Superlight Compact Rotationally Symmetrical' flood light from Meyer can be purchased from Australian supplier Inlight. It takes a 70 Wattage MH-Ceramic lamp and has a lumen output of 6900.

The Meyer flood lights are attached to the rear of the glass and steel screen that spans the atrium walls for nine storeys. The beam angle of the lights is 27 x 71 degrees and this was again used to illuminate the stone walling with a grazing technique.

A key feature of 171 Collins Street’s ground floor is the glowing line at the base of the stone that runs the entire perimeter of the space. The system illuminates the travertine vertically from a custom-designed architectural recess and visually defines the perimeter of the ground. Electrolight lined the recess with TiMi LED Strips from KKDC lighting manufacturers and covered it with a frosted glass diffuser so that it was flush with the floor level.

Judges of the IALD International Lighting Design Awards were impressed with Electrolight's concept and felt that the design brought the architecture to life in a non-imposing way.

“The scheme offers a perfect example of lighting design, light sources are used purely as tools to highlight the architecture and bring key materials to life, in this instance the feature travertine stone,” said the judges.

“The solution is clean and non-distracting, it allows the space to project its best qualities without imposing.”

Bates Smart’s Director Kristen Whittle agreed and suggested that the lighting scheme enhanced his team’s architectural expression.

“The ambiance within the ground floor lobby areas radiates sophisticated luxury; the lighting scheme had to be both subtle and highly tuned in order for it to seamlessly integrate with this architectural expression,” he said.

Whether you believe in the power of light or not, 171 Collins Street by Bates Smart shows how an integrated lighting design, with help from an expert lighting team, can enhance your design outcome.

Photography: Peter Clarke.