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Design for efficiency and style at the ACT Law Courts

Following its recent expansion, the ACT Law Courts needed more than just a fresh coat of paint. The resulting fit-out showcases an effective, architectural approach to acoustics.

As the government agency of the ACT Law Courts grew in size and operations, the organisation recently expanded to join the Supreme Court. This was to both address capacity issues and maximise operational efficiencies, with several new courtrooms, offices and spaces added.

The design, carried out by Lyons Architecture, sees extensive glazing applied to the building’s entrance to allow natural light to flood the foyer and create an inviting flow for visitors and staff entering the building. This natural light flow illuminates the inspired, curved ceiling designed by Screenwood, creating an open, welcoming environment. The ceiling, designed in Western Red Cedar, has a natural colour variation that brings a sense of warmth and vitality to the space.

The ceiling features a dramatic curve downward from its towering height, a beautiful opportunity to simply pause and admire. As the ceiling continues down, it transitions into gentle ripples of wood, creating a more personal and comforting atmosphere in the reception area below. Such a large area with a complex ceiling design required Screenwood to address the very high possibility of noise pollution and unpleasant reverberation. Inspired in both size and design, Screenwood panels offer that additional benefit of serene acoustic comfort in what is an expansive space.

More than just a redesign of the entrance room, the ACT Law Courts expansion saw changes and additions to the court rooms as well as seating. Understanding that hearing and legibility are of the upmost importance in these fit-for-purpose spaces, Screenwood was again used to manage this. Lyons specified Hemlock in a custom calcium whitewash, creating an understated aesthetic that also manages acoustic intelligibility.

The calm, irregular waves across the ceilings of these spaces link them conceptually to the entrance lobby while also creating a subtle and non-distracting variation on the theme.

Following the expansion, staff and visitors to the ACT Law Courts have the distinct advantage of engaging with thoughtfully executed architecture which puts the emphasis on aesthetics and acoustic function in equal parts.

Photography: Marina McDonald, courtesy of Tilton Interiors

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