181 William Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Client: GPT

Architect: BVN

Contractor: Built

Completion: 2022

“A perfect application and design of light, flawlessly executed” (IESANZ Award Judges Comment)

The elegantly designed lobby of 181 William Street signifies a building of significance, where visitors are greeted with luxurious natural finishes at the two main street entrances.

The principal lighting concept for the new look lobby was centered around providing a warm, intimate lighting experience at the human scale. Expanding on GPT’s vision, NDYLIGHT developed a lighting narrative based on the look and feel one would expect in a high-end contemporary hotel. Acutely balanced levels of contrast, refined detailing and unique lighting elements were all paramount to generating this level of ambience.

This approach to the lighting produced a relief from the typical commercial office lobby feel and create a destination space in which people feel at ease, discussing business or having a casual chat while sipping on one of Melbourne’s finest coffees from the café that compliments the lobby’s expansive lounge.

Custom designed, goose neck brass lamps were integrated into joinery to generate an intimate experience to booths flanking the main entrances. Glowing table lamps throughout provide warm, hospitality-like pools of light and visual interest. The low level, human scale lighting ambience is further enriched by the warm linear lighting integrated into the stone wall to highlight the stone’s texture and powerful presence.

Glowing ambience became an obsession to the lighting design, and at the crux of this obsession is a feature glass brick wall constructed using thousands of hand-poured glass bricks. Standing over 10 metres high and 12 metres wide, this is the hero piece in the space and critical to the overall lighting strategy. Multiple lighting concepts were explored to ensure the intended concept was realised.

NDYLIGHT collaborated intensively with BVN, advising on surface finishes, dimensions, access, structure and mounting to create a major enclosed glass brick lightbox feature that was developed and refined over a range of factory and site mockups. Customised linear RGBW projectors were carefully positioned within the wall to project light and wash the rear of the feature wall to create the ‘hero’ glow within the space. Sixteen different coloured and white presets were programmed ranging from dynamic to static scenes, transforming the look and feel of the space at different times of the day, evening and over the course of a year.

The overall effect is visually striking, inviting and highly visible from both William Street and Bourke Street – indicating that 181 William Street is indeed an address of significance.

The lighting installation was awarded an IESANZ Commendation Award, 2022.