The brief for this apartment was simple: A gallery to live in. With the client being an avid art collector and gallery owner, this presented both an exciting and challenging task.
How was an existing, relatively small residential suite in an apartment building to be transformed convincingly into a space with gallery qualities? What in fact makes a gallery space successful? How was the detritus of daily life to be contained, and how were the essential elements of domestic life to be disguised to avoid distraction? Each of these questions had to be addressed and resolved in order to approach a successful solution to the brief.
Concept and Requirements
Of all the individual elements comprising the scheme, light was viewed as a priority. It became evident early in the design process that a conventional solution would not achieve a satisfactory result, either functionally or aesthetically. The austere nature of the design meant any light source overtly obvious would cause distraction, drawing attention away from the art and other objects intended for display in the apartment. A low glare solution was therefore viewed as a necessity. The philosophy, vigorously adhered to is aimed at achieving as timeless a design as possible. Because the apartment was conceived as “a gallery to live in”, flexibility was of paramount importance. The ability to re-curate the collection regularly, incorporating works of widely varying scales, meant a solution that delivered even illumination across the art walls was desirable. An analysis of colour temperature lamp options was undertaken to choose the most suitable lamp specification for everyday living, as well as the display of art, and in context to the design.
The Slot Blade by Aesthetics Lighting was rotated 90deg and sandwiched between the underside of the existing, and a new lowered central portion of ceiling. Lowering the ceiling would seem at odds with the notion of making the space feel larger, but by throwing light outwards a sense of spreading the walls was achieved. Because the Slot Blade allows for continuous fluorescent lamps to be run end to end, it delivered the greatest scope for flexibility with maximum evenness of illumination. The standard diffuser supplied with the fitting was used to reduce glare and assist with the even spread of light across the ceiling to the walls. This solution created the appearance that space was, in relative terms, abundant.
Although the fitting was largely unseen, it was finished in a powder coat colour to match the ceiling. This created a sense of integration, the fitting feeling a part of the structure and enhancing the effect of light bleeding between two planes with no other visual distractions.
Recessed Slot Blade has also been used over the kitchen bench, adjacent to the horizontal detail. The downward light provides good quality workspace illumination and a neat addition to the outward oriented strip beside it.
The practical aspects of living were taken very much into consideration. In order to address the lighting and illuminance requirements of the moment, the Slot Blade fittings are dimmable and controlled by a building maintenance system. The spaces are programmed with a series of presets allowing mood and atmosphere to be controlled through changing light levels. The light levels in the centre living and bedroom spaces average 400 lux, and at mid point on the walls average 900 lux with the lights on full output. This creates a sense of focus to the outer walls and what they display.
The apartment has an inherently warm feeling, the result of much thought given to the connection between materiality and light, profoundly dispelling the notion that fluorescent light is too harsh to be used extensively for domestic inhabitancy. The choice of a colour 4000K T5 tubes meant colours were rendered to their best advantage without evoking too cool an atmosphere.
Through the extensive use of fluorescent lighting, energy efficiency as well as a lower initial outlay have been achieved. The lower running cost of fluorescents coupled with the longer lamp life of the T5 tube means maintenance has been reduced extensively, and the overall lighting cost in relation to the apartment value was very economic in comparison to an equivalent and more conventional residential application.
The completed fitout has minimised the compromises between domestic routine and gallery space and has met all the requirements demanded by the brief. The effect is very much that of a gallery space, but for the client it also provides a home that is truly habitable without hardship or compromise through any of the gallery characteristics it embodies.