3rd April 2019
On Track shared from Architecture Today
Dr Thomas Schielke explores how ERCO’s new track-based downlights provide a flexible and ergonomic lighting solution that is ideal for changing office needs
Agile work processes and a stimulating environment are characteristics of the modern office. The demand for versatility that is placed on work teams means that interior design and office equipment need be equally flexible. As a consequence, leading offices and agencies are relying on the flexibility of track lighting. The lighting depends on the function of the work tasks and not vice versa. Flexibility for standard-compliant office lighting can only be achieved with luminaires that bring together the visual comfort of a downlight with the flexibility of a spotlight. With its track-based downlights, ERCO has created just such a system. The new luminaires can be mounted in the track without tools and their position can correspond to the furniture layout. If, for example, the size of the work team or department changes, the light can be simply adapted to the new layout. And if the office moves to larger premises, you can take the downlights and track with you.
A track-based lighting solution with flexible Optec spotlights meets the diverse lighting needs of Ingenhoven Architects’ office in Düsseldorf (ph: Thomas Mayer)
Downlights for track the best of both worlds
In many companies, rigid lighting grids determine the office structure for a long time. Changes, such as expanding work departments, frequently require complex new installations in the ceiling. With regards to changing lighting requirements, track-based spotlights have long established themselves in shops and museums. They can be removed without tools using an adapter, rearranged and reconnected. By uniting the lighting technology of downlights with the flexibility of track luminaires, highly flexible, standard-compliant ceiling-based office lighting is now being created for the first time. The advantages of the new track-based downlights are:
1. High visual comfort due to good glare control.
2. Sufficient illuminance at the office workplace due to high luminous flux.
3. Precise optics distribute the light uniformly and pleasingly on the desktop.
4. Wide light distribution creates high horizontal brightness and achieves good facial recognition in meetings via the cylindrical illuminance.
5. A wide light beam enables large luminaire spacing, which reduces the number of light fittings required, cutting investment and operating costs.
The office lighting at Mediapro EXH in Barcelona is oriented towards flexible lighting with a track that performs a range of functions. Lighting design: Jordi Moyá (ph: Sebastian Mayer)
Track lighting consequently allows the luminaire layout to be changed or expanded at any time without the need for new cabling. Both general lighting and zonal structuring are possible. Changing between these two lighting concepts is also feasible. In addition to downlights for horizontal general lighting, other lighting tools can also be added. For example, wallwashers create a bright room impression, spotlights accentuate objects and pendant luminaires highlight seating islands and desks. The track allows all lighting functions to be optimally combined within a single infrastructure, from concentrated individual work to creative teamwork and presentations. In terms of design, rooms are able to retain their spaciousness and are not further divided by vertical elements, such as floor standing uplights.
Track-based spotlights provide both direct workstation lighting and vertical illumination of the wall surfaces in the open-plan offices of Engel & Völkers’ Market Center in Madrid (ph: Frieder Blickle)
Four criteria for good office workplace lighting
There are four aspects that are particularly important for achieving attractive workplace lighting: sufficient horizontal illuminance, high cylindrical illuminance, good uniformity and very good glare control. Offices should be uniformly illuminated with illuminance levels of 500lx and more to ensure that detailed documents can be read clearly. High uniformity reduces unnecessary adaptation of the eyes between light and dark zones in the working area. In addition to horizontal lighting, a high vertical lighting component is also advantageous for good facial recognition.
Track-based wall washers provide ambient lighting while discreetly showcasing the original features of Candalepas Associates’ office in Sydney (ph: Jackie Chan)
In order to facilitate pleasant communication between colleagues or via video conferencing, cylindrical illuminance at head height is recommended. A brightness of at least 150lx is required for this purpose. Excessive luminance can lead to glare, so luminaires with good glare control are indispensable. The UGR (Unified Glare Rating) procedure evaluates the direct glare of a specific luminaire arrangement for a fixed workplace. Luminaire ranges designed for applications in offices provide lighting designers with a high degree of freedom to mount downlights at their ideal positions in the track thanks to good luminaire glare control.
The large meeting room of Sydney-based architect Candalepas Associates features track-based wall washers and spotlights with flood light (ph: Jackie Chan)
The ideal luminaire arrangement for offices
When lighting offices, visual comfort depends not only on glare-free luminaires, but also on the arrangement of the light fitting. To avoid reflected glare, it is advisable to position the luminaires laterally above the workstation rather than centrally. This minimises reflected glare from keyboards, obliquely positioned screens and glossy documents. Selecting the right light distribution is just as important. Thanks to light projected via lenses, various beam characteristics are also available for track-mounted downlights:
ERCO has designed different light distributions for diverse office tasks, providing optimum wide flood, extra wide flood, oval wide flood, oval flood and wall wash illumination
Extra wide flood for general lighting
With a beam angle of approximately 85°, extra wide flood light distribution facilitates large luminaire spacing. This reduces the number of luminaires and cuts investment costs. The wide light distribution is beneficial for the economical illumination of ancillary areas. Luminaires with extra wide flood in combination with UGR<19 can also be used in areas with conference tables or for video conferences.
Oval wide flood for the office workstation and conference table
The oval wide flood light distribution is particularly suitable for office workstations and conference tables. It is based on conventional linear lighting systems with fluorescent lamps. A beam angle of approximately 90°x55° enables the efficient illumination of long work tables and achieves a UGR of <19 in the 55° axis.
Wide flood as an all-rounder
In offices, a wide flood distribution of light can generally be used to achieve good visual comfort. With 60° light distribution and a UGR of <19 in all directions, this optic is suitable for all forms of office workstation, conference tables and reception desks. The alignment of the luminaire on the ceiling is irrelevant due to the circular light distribution.
Oval flood for circulation areas
The oval flood light distribution with 90°x35° enables extremely large luminaire spacing and is thus the most cost-efficient type of lighting for circulation areas. In addition to general lighting in hallways and corridors, downlights with oval flood characteristics are also suitable for illuminating counters, tables and sideboards. These stand out as eye-catching objects in the room and serve to structure large office areas.
Modern office architecture focuses on ergonomics and flexibility. A lighting concept with Skim for track can be quickly and simply adapted to changes in organisational structures and office layouts.
The track represents a flexible infrastructure for downlights. In principle, it is advisable to align the track parallel to the façade, allowing the lighting to be simply adjusted closer or further from desks. A 1.8-metre distance between the tracks provides a good basis for achieving uniform general lighting in a 2.8-metre high room. For wall washing, a distance to the wall of one third of the room height is suitable for the track. The track and downlight system creates infrastructures that are suitable for a wide range of furnishing concepts.