Lighting for collaboration – Woods Bagot’s Melbourne HQ

Innovative interior design as well as lighting choices help to create zones within collaborative workplaces, and enhance the human experience for both staff and visitors.

As an architectural company that works with human experience at the heart of their philosophy, Woods Bagot needed an office design that accurately reflected what they do. The challenge to convey this sentiment while creating a space ripe for collaboration fell onto the shoulders of Bruno Mendes, a Melbourne-based Woods Bagot principal.

The project was the first time Mendes had designed for a workplace – a tough introduction to the field. “There really is nothing harder,” says Mendes than an architect designing his or her own studio.

With clear instructions for everyone to leave him alone and do it, Mendes set out to design and build the office space over a tight 2.5-month period, working with Light Project to bring the old concrete building to a new life.

“The overall approach for the lighting was always to ensure an overall sense of warmth that is more akin to sitting at home in your living room as opposed to the cold light of traditional office fluoros,” says Mendes. “In addition to the warmth created via the lighting levels, we sought to create spaces that transitioned from light to dark resulting in an office environment that isn’t completely lit up.”

The resulting space fuses raw elements of timber with steel and concrete, the mixed surfaces working to link each of the key spaces throughout the building. Exposed light fittings were a deliberate choice, mirroring the exposed office services. Custom bronze tube lights fill the reception area acting as what Mendes terms “a piece of sculpture”.

Clients and colleagues alike have been impressed by the dramatic design that works to bring the team together in the spirit of collaboration. Mendes downplays his work, saying the existing structure and heritage of the building made the conceptual element of the project easy. “It’s not hard when there’s a bit of concrete,” he says way too modestly, “just add timber, steel and some warm lights – job done!”

The Woods Bagot office was named Best Office in the Interior Design Excellence Awards 2016.