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How Can Design Elements Like ‘Light’ Bring Workplaces Together?

Phillips by LAVA uses “intelligent lights” in the parametric designed ‘tree’ to boost communication, creativity, interchange and wellbeing for staff and visitors. Here’s how…

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew

  • Photography by Jonathan Andrew



BY Indesignlive

February 22nd, 2017


For the new HQ of Philips Lighting in the Netherlands, globetrotting architecture office LAVA was asked not only to provide innovative workspaces and an impressive reception area for receiving guests, but also to demonstrate the use of lighting to improve people’s lives.

“How light affects humans and how can we use it to create better living spaces,” says LAVA director Alexander Rieck, was therefore the inspiration behind the design, which revolves around a 3250m2 atrium dominated by an installation known as the Light Tree. ‘We thought about the experience of light. Light is only visible when it reflects on something, so we developed a multifaceted three-dimensional Light Tree ceiling with the qualities of light reflection, diffusion, and emission,’ says Rieck.

The ceiling installation has its roots in recent research by the Fraunhofer Institute on the effects of lighting on people, adds LAVA Senior Architect Nuno Galvão. ‘In Nature, the sun gives us a sense of time,’ he explains. ‘Working in an office means that people miss the subtle changes in light during the day. As research links levels of comfort and attentiveness to the human perception of such variations in our environment, we designed the Light Tree to filter and reflect the natural light from the atrium side windows and skylights.’ In addition to magnifying the effect of daylight, the installation feature warm light fixtures placed so as to emulate natural sunlight during darker days. These are programmed to embody the varying light effects of different seasons.

The installation consists of 1500 panels suggesting leaves on a tree, with a reflective surface on the back of each panel amplifying daylight and creating a play of light and shadow. Some 500 panels feature self-emitting Philips Ecophon Soundlight, a material combining LED lighting with integral sound absorption in a single system. After abundant preparation, including numerous co-creative meetings with the board and with actual users of the space at Philips, the final Light Tree took just three weeks to assemble on site.

The atrium (formerly the courtyard of the 1950s building) combines a number of social activities from a coffee bar to meeting rooms. Glass partition walls ensure that the effects of the installation are felt throughout the adjacent work environments, while wooden floors add warmth and tactility to the space. A core of naturally varying light thus illuminates and enlivens the HQ.

‘In our office, we take pride on pushing the boundaries of knowledge and practice,’ say Rieck. ‘We like to start with a theoretical approach and bring it to an architectural context. This project was one of those moments when we realized that we managed to make that a reality for everyone to experience.’

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