How do you design a house to glow? The secret is in careful planning and invisible light sources, according to Electrolight’s Donn Salisbury, who led the lighting design team on this stunning NSW home, dubbed The Farm.
Designed by Fergus Scott Architects, The Farm residence is a sprawling two-winged weekender that cleverly merges with the landscape. Rammed earth walls form a major part of the architectural design – a monolithic and texturally rich statement that subtly blends into its grassy surrounds.
The project called for an intrinsic lighting design, that would embed itself into the structural forms of the home to illuminate its interior spaces. “It was all about a natural concealment of sources and illumination of the built fabric, to make it glow from the inside out, as opposed to light sources sitting exposed within the spaces,” says Donn. “The architecture was so stunning, with a backdrop to match – made clear from the concept and our first site visit. There was such a mix of spaces, some combining interior and exterior, so our vision had to be pure and unwavering.”
It called for a “carefully detailed and finely finessed” approach, he says, that would feel natural, “like it wasn’t trying too hard”.
Donn references the textural qualities of the rammed earth – a local aggregate that feels at one with the surrounding environment – as well as raw timber and concrete materials. “We had a number of different textures to work with, so our plan was for some to be illuminated directly, others indirectly. Apart from a few subtle features, the majority of lighting was to be hidden from view – as if it were the structure itself glowing. The ceiling offered a perfect opportunity for illumination from linear sources on the walls below” – here Donn points out the floating ceilings which allowed for this clever, invisible integration.
Wall washers and pin-hole downlighting were used throughout some spaces, embedded flush into the timber ceilings. “To look across the ceiling, you don’t even know the downlights are there,” Donn says. Banks of micro-downlights were installed in linear groups, with finely-tuned beams, aimed within their fittings to highlight features and furniture pieces within various living zones. “The construction team were outstanding, their attention to detail was the key to making everything disappear.”
The micro-downlights, all supplied by Light Project, are quite precise. “Instead of using light sources to illuminate the areas, we used multiple mini sources, so we could be succinct and precise about where the light was going,” says Donn.
Not a “blob” of light to be found. Electrolight instead orchestrated a series of illuminated surfaces and progressive highlights to achieve the desired effect.
The two sleeping wings both house self-contained bedroom retreats, their entrances identified by custom designed marker luminaires that double as night lights. “There were a number of bespoke luminaires designed for the project, including the dining table pipe-pendant and the brass bedroom wall lights,” notes Donn, pointing out the luminaires’ design – an extrapolation of the building’s architectural form.
From a usability perspective, the lighting is also finely tuned to offer ambience in one moment and functional task-oriented illumination the next. “The entire house uses a DALI control system, so the residents have the ability to create a bright, airy space with lots of surface brightness, or alternatively tone down the background illumination to create a more intimate setting with highlights and task orientated lighting.”
The finely tuned lighting design required a finely tuned approach to project management and bespoke fabrication. Working with Light Project, Electrolight was able to deliver a lighting experience that feels almost as if it’s not there. “It’s very much an experience of architecture and materials, without recognising how it’s been achieved,” says Donn. Which, all in all, points to a job very well done!
The Farm recently received the IESNSW LiDA 2016 Award of Excellence.
Ready to talk lighting design on your residential project? Contact Light Project to chat about your architectural and custom lighting options.
Photography: Rohan Venn
Lighting Designers – Electrolight (Donn Salisbury & Vladi Rosolova)
Architect – Fergus Scott
Builder – Join Constructions
Electrical Contractor – Ampelec