challenge Sweden's close proximity to the Arctic Circle creates an extreme lighting condition known as the midnight sun. Throughout June and July, Swedes experience almost 24 hours of daylight. So it was a particular challenge for interior architect Gensler and lighting consultant Susan Brady Lighting Design (SBLD) to incorporate this Nordic sensibility toward light into a typical New York City high-rise office space for its client, the Swedish company Absolute Vodka.
architectural and lighting solution This generic 10,000-square-foot space is transformed through astute spatial planning, creative lighting techniques, and a palette of finishes that acknowledges Absolute's Scandinavian heritage and reinforces the blue tones of its branding campaign. The office is divided into a reception area, a conference room, a series of private and open offices, and support spaces. The client's request for natural light is achieved with consistent light levels from both natural and artificial light sources, giving the space an open, airy feeling. Lighting elements are integrated within the architecture, greeting visitors and employees immediately upon arrival. A pair of etched glass entry doors creates the silhouette of Absolute's trademark bottle. The backdrop of blue LEDs, from the reception area beyond, make it seem as if the bottle is 'on ice.'
An abundance of natural light and views of Central Park complement the main design feature of the reception area-a custom stainless-steel display case, innovatively illuminated with blue and white LED strips. The white LED strips are run vertically on the sides of each case, and horizontally edge the frosted glass shelves that display vodka bottles. Since a column to the left prohibited the extension of this display, white LED strips were employed to simulate the appearance of shelf lines and the outline of vodka bottles. Blue LED strips act as fill, and the overall effect is a display awash in a flood of blue light. Adjacent to the reception area and hidden behind a group of four pivoting panels sits the conference room equipped with state-of-the-art teleconferencing capabilities. Minimal fluorescent slots and low-voltage downlights provide the required task illumination. The lights are preset to a series of dimming levels that correspond to the room's different functions.
In the open-office area, the defining feature is a suspended wooden-slat ceiling with a compact-fluorescent triangular light cove and a series of track lights concealed above. The result is a soft diffuse light, which filters through the openings. The use of wood throughout the project and especially on the ceiling helps to warm up the existing light color temperature. The walls of the perimeter offices facing the open area are frosted glass panels, so that even when the doors are closed, the interior open-office space still seems as if it were being flooded with daylight. In the private offices, indirect pendants supplemented with cove lighting are discreetly integrated above the doors to reinforce this effect.
The project provides light for everyone, defining space with a combination of direct light and diffuse glow, without drawing attention to the light fixtures and sources. Wherever possible, access to daylight is provided; however, when a true daylight source could not be achieved, innovative use of materials in combination with artificial light gives the impression of daylight. The result is a calm and comfortable work environment that stays true to its Scandinavian roots. elizabeth donoff