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Lighting for both mice and men

The new Veterinary Building at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences campus might be the most complex building ever built in Norway. With an enormous amount of functions and needs that need to be facilitated under the same roof, the Veterinary Building consists of 8 connected buildings and around 2400 rooms. How do you illuminate a project like this?

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THE CONSTRUCTION OF the new Campus Ås began in 2009, and some parts of the campus were ready to move into in the spring of 2021. To call this project a big undertaking would, in other words, be quite an understatement. We had a conversation with Benedikte Nilsen Rauan, who through her job as a Lighting Designer at consultancy firm Multiconsult has been involved with this project since 2011.

A very complex project
Calling the Veterinary Building one of the most complex buildings ever built in Norway is a big statement, but Nilsen Rauan is happy to elaborate.

— It was an extremely intricate project. The new Veterinary Building consists of a vast amount of functions. You need large teaching auditoriums with and without live animals, facilities for science and research, laboratories, aquariums, operating rooms, treadmills for horses and swimming pools for dogs, as well as museum rooms and exhibitions. There’s even a perfectly preserved veterinary office from the turn of the century. Some rooms house sick animals and thus need special functions to keep diseases and viruses contained. Every one of these objectives comes with its own unique set of requirements.

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— As if this wasn’t enough, we also needed the outside to be lit – roads, sidewalks, parks, and sculptures. The art inside the campus social areas needs to be lit in a way that compliments the pieces because we wanted the art to be visible from the outside when it’s dark. The architecture is constructed with tall, open glass exteriors in order to let the large artworks become a part of the public space in the park outside. Finding the optimal lighting solutions for each of these elements has been quite the undertaking, she explains with a smile.

Close collaboration from day one
So where do you begin when designing lighting solutions for this kind of project? Nilsen Rauan tells us that the lighting designers were involved in the planning from start to end, which is something that usually doesn’t happen in her projects. This was a big advantage and made the process a lot easier.

— I was already aware of Glamox when I was assigned to the Campus Ås project. Glamox is well-known in the lighting industry. I knew the product range well and thought Glamox would be a great fit for this project. I used your website to get a feel for what kinds of products I wanted to use, both for inspiration and to take a look at the technical specifications for the products. I also spent a lot of time looking at your reference projects for ideas.

Furthermore, she tells us that they worked very detail-oriented from day one. The architects had very specific requirements for the ceiling lights, but aside from this, they had a large amount of freedom in the lighting design. The lighting designers presented their ideas to the architects, and in collaboration, they fine-tuned their vision before handing their sketches and renders over to the builders for approval.

— We used a lot of visualizations, both hand drawings and digital reproductions. Lighting technical data was also used to visualize what the finished design will look like. We had to choose luminaires that complimented the architect’s ceiling choices especially, and their colour choices directly affected how warm or cool the colour temperature of the lighting needed to be. We worked very closely with the architects, and this was extremely important for the final result. Some of the architect’s digital visualization ended up looking exactly like images from the finished building, which is quite impressive.

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There were, however, some limitations and adjustments that needed to be made along the way. Also, the 12-year build meant that there were considerable technological advances during this time. Some parts of the building were redesigned throughout the construction process, and this allowed for updates to the lighting solutions as well. There have also been requests from the users of the building, like red or green lighting for improved vision and precision in the operating theatres. These have been adjusted and added along the way.

Lighting control for smarter energy use
As with most modern buildings, lighting control systems were also installed. The campus has 180 different variants of luminaires installed in 2400 rooms, the luminaires are controlled by Dali systems, and together with extensive use of state-of-the-art motion and daylight sensors, this contributes to sustainable use of energy.

— We had to allow the users of some rooms to override the automatic settings, though. Some research projects demand the ability to control the lighting in a room in a special way. I have been told there is one team that researches the circadian rhythm of fish, which means they need to be able to manipulate the light to change according to their specific needs. We were faced with a lot of scenarios that we couldn’t have imagined when we first took on the project, Nilsen Rauan adds

From the builder’s point of view, it was an advantage to have as few suppliers as possible. From a practical standpoint, this makes both management and maintenance a lot simpler. Glamox supplied custom corridor and office luminaires, as well as custom luminaires in laboratories and luminaires for use in clinical areas of hospitals and healthcare buildings. Along with these high spec luminaires Glamox also supplied luminaires for technical rooms, bench lighting, and table lamps.

The project manager and sales engineer from Glamox provided help and follow-up during the entire building process, especially since support was highly important when it was time to mount the luminaires. This ensured that every step of the process went as smoothly as possible.

Today the Veterinary Building is a state-of-the-art university building with brand new facilities for the people who work, study, or do their research there. Both employees and students have access to world-class research, laboratory, and teaching facilities. Practical solutions and technologically advanced equipment promote animal welfare for both the fishing industry, agriculture, sports, and domestic pets.

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