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What was old is now new again: Sydney’s Foreshore House

“Every floor had different floor to ceiling heights, so to unite the look of the floors, we installed suspended Prolicht luminaires and downlights at the same height. To achieve this, Light Project used different wire suspension lengths floor by floor.” – Ibby Kanalas, Northrop.

Once an outdated, 1970s government building, the Foreshore House is now a contemporary, lively collaborative working space.

Despite being set in a highly significant heritage area of Sydney’s The Rocks, Foreshore house had seen better days. “It was very outdated in every respect, especially in the way the workspace was lit. The type of luminaires in the building still used old style T8 and T5 fluorescent louvred troffers in suspended T-Bar grids,” says Ibby Kanalas of Northrop, the engineers behind the project. “The space was broken down to many small offices, narrow corridors, tiny tea rooms and all floors had limited open spaces suitable for collaboration.”

In collaboration with Northrop, architecture studio dwp took the ‘70s brutalist building and stripped it back to its shell and core in order to create a new state of the art, flexible working environment.

“The general planning and concept of the design direction was drawn from the unique ‘wood block paving’ used around The Rocks from the 1880s,” says Hugh Thomson, architect at dwp. “Each floor provides a variety of lanes and nooks which reflect the essence of The Rocks, allowing the user to discover the space they occupy. The overall look and feel is a response to the heritage of the building and the surrounding area.”

Due to an interior dominated by warm, natural and neutral tones, light fittings were required to enhance the space and give appreciation to the interior’s raw materiality. Kalis linear profile, supplied by Light Project, demands attention and mirrors the large footprint of the desking, drawing the eye to where the work happens as well as providing adequate lighting for day-to-day functions.

With a very tight budget to work with, the lighting design for Foreshore House had to be streamlined. It also needed to complement the open ceiling as well as achieve the nominated Green Star and NABERS targets set for the project, a requirement that Light Project was more than happy to adhere to.

“One of the biggest challenges presented in this project was that every floor had different floor to ceiling heights, so to unite the look of the floors, we installed the suspended Prolicht luminaires and downlights at the same height. To achieve this, Light Project used different wire suspension lengths floor by floor,” says Kanalas.

“On every floor, on the timber columns along the main circulation corridor, we installed the same custom made LED wall lights. The custom lighting also assisted in uniting the floors visually and, at the same time, are used as wayfinding and guiding elements from one end of the floor to the other.”