Lights can be used for many different functions – everything from creating ambience, highlighting a feature wall and artwork, or simply to deliver adequate lighting to perform tasks. In a modern office, lighting needs to be appropriate to carry out the tasks required by staff. Today’s office typically involves multiple people at workstations operating computers and using the facilities for meetings, and client interactions.
Designing the right lighting solution for an open plan office, needs to consider a variety of situations; the tasks to be undertaken, and the staff’s ability to carry out their duties in comfort, irrespective of their age or physical abilities.
Key factors to consider when creating the ideal lighting solution:
- company profile (staff and activities)
- office layout
- style of furniture
- ceilings, and
- floor coverings, including carpet colours.
Where to start?
An excellent guide to start your lighting plan is the Australian Standard recommendations and the Building Code for Energy requirements (Watts per square meter).
A good lighting solution provides the necessary 320Lux+ on the work surface, in line with the Australian Standard. As most workers are using computers, your choice of Luminaires must work well to avoid glare reflections on the screens.
The type of ceilings plays a big part in your choice of luminaires suitable for the tasks undertaken by workers. Today’s modern office may include ceilings made of Plaster board, T-Bar or even no ceiling; instead, an open void with services such as air conditioning ducts exposed to create an industrial warehouse vibe.
T-Bar ceiling are the most common type. This ceiling is an exposed grid ceiling system, in a prefinished white T-bar system. Troffer style luminaires are recommended for T-Bar ceilings, as the microprism diffusers spread light downward with high verticals, ensuring an even spread across the working area.
A troffer is a rectangular or square light fixture that typically fits into a modular dropped ceiling grid, often described as “recessed” and available in LED.
Plaster ceiling can have recessed troffer style luminaires installed. Other options include simple downlights, and surface mounted luminaires. Depending on the height of the ceiling, linier pendants with direct and indirect light sources are considered best practice. Washing (or bathing) the ceiling with light avoids a cave like effect.
Exposed ceiling, typically painted black, poses some interesting light challenges for designers. Usually pendant style luminaires are used, as these shine down, and detract attention to exposed services. To avoid the feeling of being in a dark cave, more luminaires are used. Also, in these situations, walls are highly enhanced to give a greater sense of space.
Using high vertical light to brighten walls also reduces eye fatigue. So, instead of people having to adjust their eyes to a dark wall, when they look up from a bright computer screen, they can easily transition from the screen to a lit wall.
Colour Temperature – Warm and Cool
Colour Temperature of the light source is highly debated. General practice is using a cool 4000 Kelvin wattage in working areas to maintain concentration. A warmer 3000 Kelvin is suitable for breakout areas, reception and small meeting rooms. This level of glow helps to create a more relaxed environment for staff.
We also recommend using Dimming systems for conference rooms to help with presentations and video calls.
Good Lighting Equals Good Health and Productivity
The design of office layouts, including lighting solutions, must have the wellbeing of occupants as the prime focus. Staff working under poor artificial lighting for extended periods, will suffer ill health, and perform below standards.
Lumen8 has worked with The RAW Team on lighting solutions for several office fitout projects including the Property Solutions, amazing new space at Nundah, and the Home Instead Australia (Gympie & Sunshine Coast), vibrant offices at Birtinya, Sunshine Coast.