Where engineering meets art – unique lighting design
The ability to combine electrical engineering with artistic creativity is a space in which Lawrence Robinson from Northrop Consulting Engineers is finding himself more and more. And he’s not complaining.
“Designing something that serves a purpose as a piece of engineering, but can also provide a positive effect on the built environment, is really cool,” Lawrence, who works in the ACT office, says.
“I enjoy all areas of electrical engineering, but lighting design is one of the few specialities where we can express ourselves and get creative.”
And it’s aesthetic designs that Northrop’s architectural clients really appreciate, according to Lawrence.
“Whether their projects involve specific lighting design aspects or not, our clients like an electrical engineer who understands the visual effects that lighting can have on a space.”
While some lighting designers may come from interior design, architectural or artistic backgrounds, Lawrence says he is an electrical engineer first, with lighting design the perfect example of passion meeting profession.
Lawrence and the Canberra Electrical Manager; Kieran Steele, previously worked as electricians before moving into engineering. This practical experience coupled with engineering knowledge and creative talent is a real asset for Northrop’s electrical team in Canberra. The team has been involved in lighting design for projects including street lighting, pathways, public areas, building facades, car parks, offices and foyers. They have also worked on residences, educational spaces, industrial areas, sporting facilities, and health institutions like hospitals and clinics.
Lawrence has also designed specialty feature lighting for projects like NSW’s Waverley Mall and Harbord Diggers Club, with two more currently on the go.
“I find that my practical experience really gives me an edge, particularly with some of these more unique lighting design projects,” he says.
“Some of the more interesting art work lighting design projects are completely unique - they are designs which haven’t been thought through before, so standards and typical calculations can’t really help you design”.
“It really helps to draw on my knowledge of how it all needs to fit together on-site, to understand the limitations, to work with the client and provide a solution which will provide the unique effect they are after.”
And Lawrence knows only too well that a lighting design doesn’t always come with an open-ended budget.
“These artistic projects aren’t about the money. The design team works hard together to produce something special and unique, which we can appreciate at the end,” Lawrence explains. “Working from a tight budget is also a real skill.
“And it’s a chance for us to express ourselves by tying engineering and art together.”
Harbord Diggers Memorial, Sydney
Artist: Jade Oakley, Art Consultant: Publicart Works, Project Management and Fabrication: AAP Creative Art Projects, Photography: Carolyn Price
Waverly Mall Interplay, Sydney
Artist: Jade Oakley, Project Management: Creative Road, Fabricator: AAP Creative Art Projects, Photography: Carolyn Price