Human-centric lighting, colour and clever design helps Mercury NZ fit-out architects Warren and Mahoney collect multiple awards for new Mercury NZ Headquarters

Thoughtful lighting design and a human-centric philosophy has helped fit-out architects Warren and Mahoney pick up 2 Dinn Best Awards for their design of Mercury Energy's impressive new headquarters in Newmarket. Senior Associate and Designer at Warren and Mahoney Holly Campbell, who led the project, picked up Silver Award for the Workplace Environment and a Bronze Award for the Colour Spatial category. Campbell’s team also enjoyed recognition as a finalist in the large workspaces over 1000m2 category in new Zealand’s prestigious Interior Awards – competing with submissions from over 100 entries across New Zealand.

A new, greener place to call home

After 3 years of planning, the power company has gathered together its 500 staff under one collaborative roof. It's the company's largest move, relocating its Auckland offices to the new purpose-built 5-star-green-rated building located in Newmarket.

Mercury NZ Headquarters with dichroic glass and human-centric lighting. Photo by Sam Hartnett.

Two buildings. One heart.

Mercury's share of the building entails 6 floor-plates over 3 levels and accounts for over half a hectare of floorspace. The ambitious design consists of two separate structures joined by an impressive enclosed central atrium, complete with ground-floor interactive display. Dichroic glass clad staircases change colour throughout the day, mimicking natural energy rhythms. There’s even a glass pop-out boardroom.

But the real star is the central atrium. It does double duty by being the social avenue that connects adjoining departments, including its sizeable multi-floor call centre – a kind of ultimate water cooler space where staff flow to and fro and can share ideas. The design to connect people is intentional. This central hub is also where Mercury's entire staff meet, sitting on an impressive grandstand stair with an accompanying ceiling showpiece which acts as acoustic absorption. You can’t miss it. And that’s kind of the point: to wow as well as to welcome, and to display confidence through form that is balanced by an unmistakable openness and transparency.

Looking up - LED Puck installed in atrium ceiling feature. Photo by Sam Hartnett.

“A challenge when designing the atrium ceiling feature was how to create a lighting effect by inserting tiny light fittings into the base of the aluminum rods when we only had 20mm inside the extrusion to work with. JSB helped out by putting forward the 15mm Planet LED Pucks. We ended up specifying the LED Pucks in two colour temperatures to achieve the desired effect." Holly Campbell, Senior Associate and Designer at Warren and Mahoney

Light, energy efficiency and natural human rhythms working as one

Sustainable and human-centric lighting clearly isn’t an afterthought at the new premises. Thoughtful use of glass and natural light, zoned lighting control and the switch to high efficiency LED promote staff comfort and help the building achieve its 5-star Green rating. The atrium’s ceiling showpiece shows deft use of lighting for sculpture. An array of Planet Lighting’s LED Pucks are integrated into the tips of the hanging baffles. Low glare and yet high lumens per watt, the collective effect presents as a sparkling multi-star-pointed centrepiece. Standing beneath it gives the feeling of witnessing a kind of stalactite chandelier from a Jenolanian-cave. Campbell described how it was achieved:

“A challenge when designing the atrium ceiling feature was how to create a lighting effect by inserting tiny light fittings into the base of the aluminum rods when we only had 20mm inside the extrusion to work with. JSB Lighting helped out by putting forward the 15mm Planet LED Pucks. We ended up specifying the LED Pucks in two colour temperatures to achieve the desired effect. JSB Sales Manager Bailey Shelley was very quick to turn things around, respond to any questions we had and collaborate with the team.”

The grand staircase at Mercury NZ with atrium ceiling feature. Photo by Sam Hartnett.

Designing for wellness at work

The building's wondrous forms aren’t simply features but are in fact part of a larger story of natural states of comfort and creative productivity. Underlying the project was Warren and Mahoney's central epithet of "nature mirrored" and a desire by Mercury to accomplish more than just a place of work, but rather a sustainable home with wellbeing at its heart.

Thoughtfully used acoustic paneling and breakout enclosed and semi-enclosed spaces abound, perfect for informal meeting areas or quiet focus areas, as do swathes of hanging plants and greenery. Social areas and activity-based working zones are part of the overall emphasis on productive collaboration combined with the human touch.

“The focus was on how we can best work together,” Caroline Basham, Mercury’s Facilities Category Specialist tells SmartSpace, who provided the soft fit-out and work area technology solutions.

Mercury's stairs were designed to encourage staff crossover and bonding across its 6 floor-plates. Photo by Sam Hartnett.

A closer look at Mercury NZ – a sustainable first for New Zealand

The shift to human-centric lighting at Mercury's new HQ mirrors the company’s sustainability goals and unique standing in New Zealand's energy landscape. To date, they lead the renewable energy race with 100% of their power generated entirely from renewables. Mercury power around a fifth of the NZ population and are now expanding their renewable portfolio with wind power: "Wind farms - we're big fans." says Mercury's website.

Indeed they are. Mercury has been planning to capture the breeze since as early as 2004. Their 15 year goal is finally being realised with the current development of 53 turbines at Turitea wind farm site, located in the Tararua Ranges. At 119MW it will deliver 470 GWh per annum - enough juice to power 210,000 cars. And when Mercury's wind farm is due to open in 2020 it will operate the third largest wind farm in NZ, as well be the only NZ company – and join only several world-wide – to use a mix of all four renewables: wind, solar, geothermal and hydro.

We think that's pretty encouraging and something that Mercury should be proud of. And we’re happy to see LED Puck being used creatively by architects and managers to help head offices promote staff wellbeing – and on front-and-centre display at that.

That’s like putting light where your heart is.

The grand staircase with above lighting sculpture centrepiece provides an ideal ambience and space to meet. Photo by Sam Hartnett.

CLIENT | Mercury NZ

FIT-OUT ARCHITECT | Warren and Mahoney, Holly Campbell 

SOFT FIT-OUT | SmartSpace

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR | CGI Electrical, Ian Marshall 

ELECTRICAL SERVICES CONSULTANT | Agile Engineering, Alan Maharaj 

ATRIUM CEILING FEATURE DESIGNER | Warren and Mahoney & Autex 

ATRIUM CEILING FEATURE SUPPLIER | Apex Interiors 

LIGHTING SUPPLIER | JSB Lighting 

PHOTOGRAPHY | Samuel Hartnett 

 

Special thanks to Holly Campbell at Warren and Mahoney and Bailey Shelley at JSB Lighting.

 

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The Team at Planet Lighting love creating the world’s most innovative lighting systems. Made in Australia. Exported to the world. Come see our award winning and class leading lighting solutions at www.planetlighting.com

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