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A Perspective from the Other Side

As a client-side Project Manager (PM), our objectives are to act in the client’s best interest to deliver a project on time, on budget and to a high quality. In reality, however, one of these three (time, cost, quality) is normally compromised.

More often than not, value engineering (VE) exercises are determined by the client and the PM to achieve cost savings. VE generally results in changing the products originally specified, which in turn affects the design outcome.

We Don’t Notice the Lighting — Unless There is a Problem

The first time I ever paid any real attention to lighting, was when I was 25. Our workplace had just been refurbished with new white workstations, larger computer screens and modern light fittings. For the first time ever in my life, I experienced migraines. In consultation with the H&S officer, it took some time to explore changes to my routine to identify the cause. After a lengthy process of elimination, including monitoring caffeine intake, we determined it was the combination of the new white worktop, in addition to an increase in lux due to the brighter light fittings and computer screen glare due to the position of my workstation. Obviously, the intended delivery of the modern office did not suit the workers within.

Get Connected

For PMs to provide the best client advice, we need to understand the importance of the lighting specification and how it will benefit the build as a whole. My role regularly interacts with the architect or interior designer, but the lighting designers? Since working in construction at the age of 16, I can’t say I have ever been at a client meeting that included a lighting designer. For PMs to appreciate good lighting design, we need to interact with lighting designers to understand that there is more to lighting than filling a room with light.

How to Teach a PM about Light, Firstly, Speak our Language

PMs are not technically educated on architectural lighting, therefore, they need to build relationships with lighting designers to increase their understanding and enable better informed decision making. Showing PMs a light fitting, talking industry jargon, using acronyms and throwing around numbers and standards means nothing to most. TM-30! what? Outside of knowing the minimum lux levels required for a particular space, more than likely, that is where the expertise stops. To really educate a PM, insist that we go with you on a site tour so we can experience and feel similar places where the lighting is right. Also, there is significant value in taking us to the worst lighting conditions so that we feel our eyes squint from the overexposure to light. Visual diagrams and experiences are best – K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid!)

“When we talk about women in design, we should not turn it into a minority issue. We need to honour our heroines because unless they are visible, we will not encourage the next generation of female designers.”

– Ilse Crawford

Getting It Right

The WIDAC community includes people from design, construction, engineering, property, building certification, project management, construction law, supply and specialist consultants. To increase the knowledge base of our members, WIDAC collaborated with Women in Lighting to hold a workshop on the role of lighting in the construction process. For most, this was the first educational session they had ever attended on lighting design. The interactive workshop was incredibly valuable, seeing first-hand the theoretical and analytical presentation demonstrated on a practical level.

The workshop validated that the better the lighting design, the less obvious it is. If you notice the lighting, then the space is not appropriately designed. The presenters discussed and demonstrated different aspects related to lighting design.

Rebecca Cadorin is a Lighting Designer who started her career in Interior Design before undertaking her Master’s in lighting. With over 17 years of experience, she clearly articulated why lighting design is critical in the build. Rebecca demonstrated that a holistic approach, including collaboration with lighting consultants, ensured architectural integration and a superior finish. As Rebecca says, “Lighting is about telling a story, having a narrative and providing a journey throughout the space to create stronger emotional connections to the space and others.”

Ana Spina qualified as an architect in her home country, Brazil, and relocated to Australia four years ago. She is currently the Major Project Leader at FPOV. Ana took the WIDAC members through lighting principles and effects, detailing the importance of balancing the four main components of lighting design — ambient, accent, feature and integrated. Ana showcased some incredible examples of this lighting balance in residential, lifestyle, hospitality, commercial and workplace settings. As Ana points out, “Light doesn’t exist to the visible eye unless it hits a surface, creates reflection and bounces upwards”.

With ten years of industry experience, Ashleigh Bretherton works as both a Lighting Consultant and Interior Designer. She provided insights into how lighting control can be utilised as a tool to alter the atmosphere of spaces and impact the user experience. Take, for example, a restaurant where each table had its dedicated light source which adjusts during the evening service to narrate the dining experience! Another example Ashleigh provided to illustrate lighting control is the lobby with waves of light guiding people through the space and acting as passive wayfinding creating a
unique personality.

As a specialist in luminaire design and manufacturing, Kam Naidoo educated the members on the critical aspects related to performance and quality. She explained the meaning of correlated colour temperature (CCT) colour stability over the luminaire life span, colour consistency and colour rendering index (CRI). With over 14 years of experience, she provided relatable examples of how value-engineered products do not necessarily satisfy the design intent of the specification. Kam reminds us, “Empower yourself to ask questions about the quality of LED products.” 

BMG Australia

Interior Design: The World is Round
Project Manager: Kernel
BMG Australia
Engineer: Evolved Engineers
Builder: Sherington Project Management

Interior Design
The World is Round

Project Manager

Evolved Engineers

Sherington Project Management

BMG is a new kind of music company. Their mission is clear; to help artists and songwriters make the very most of their songs and recordings in the digital age.

In 2018, we constructed a sound studio on the top floor of a fully occupied heritage-listed timber-framed building in Surry Hills, Sydney. Basically, we built a soundproof, acoustically balanced, no-natural-light box in the middle of an old rickety building that was filled with the noise of the bustling city outside.

The team was comprised of a diverse mix of specialists and personalities including BMG (the client), private landlord, sound studio designer, interior designer, services engineers, structural engineers, acoustic engineers and the builder. As a Project Manager working with ‘creatives’ for the first time, it was a wonderful experience. Team meetings were very colourful and accommodated the diversity of thought while keeping the project on track.

There were so many moving parts, stakeholders and challenges that provided a richness to the experience. 

To structurally support the sound studio, we had to temporarily relocate the tenants 

below. During the project, the installation of light rail along a perimeter street meant that the isolation floor had to be adapted. In addition to the structural considerations, we need to comfortably light the space for the musicians and technicians.

Lighting a Box

In order to achieve the optimum acoustic requirements for recording music, the ceiling height was limited to approximately 2.2mwith no access to natural light. CeoLux lighting was specified to replicate natural light within the studio. The lighting cost was significant, and with a value engineering mindset, it was not justifiable. 

I give credit to the designer who ‘educated the PM’ on the necessity of an artificial skylight that makes the ‘sky’ appear blue and the ‘sun’ far above. The end result was phenomenal! This project is the most challenging and rewarding of my career with rigid structural requirements to create a fit-for-purpose space for diverse personalities while delivering a high level of aesthetic appeal.