The Arthur Birch Building Renovation


The Research School of Chemistry (RSC) at Australian National University has a proud history. The Birch Building, named after Arthur Birch, widely considered one of the greatest organic chemists of the 20th century, was built in 1967. Intended to provide a “Centre of Excellence” equipped to the most modern standards, and competitive to any centre in Europe or the United States, the building has gone through a number of improvements with the latest coming to fruition in late 2021.

The Challenge

The WSP Lighting Design team out of Brisbane approached mLight with a unique challenge: to deliver an efficient solution – that was of the same innovative spirit and intent of the original structure – within the constraints of what is now an official Commonwealth Heritage listed building. As a historical building, there were many features that could not be moved, changed or modified or risk losing historical status. 

For example, perforating the concrete ceiling was not an option. The ceilings presented other challenges for lighting solutions as they were composed of various coffer type elements, either square or linear. Lighting had to be efficient, uniform, low glare and be integrated into an automated system that was easy to install, program and use. This called for nothing less than leading edge lighting technology integrated seamlessly into a historical build.

The Solution

mLight assisted from concept, design and layout, technical analysis of the deliverables, through to final specification. The solution incorporates a combination of Kleo X 78 in showcase areas with Ligera in non-critical spaces in both direct and indirect. 

The mLight Touch automation solution solved much of the installation challenges with its wireless control interface making adjustments easy after physical installation. mLight Touch also allowed for daylight harvesting near the windows to make use of natural light, motion sensing across the individual lab spaces and zones to ensure lights are off when empty, with wall-mounted kinetic switches for easily changing between programmed scenes with the push of a power-free button.

“mLight really helped us balance style and efficiency on this truly historic project and it was a pleasure to work with them in a collaborative fashion to tackle this unique and challenging project.” 

– Adrianna Barr, Lighting Director, WSP

Existing Press


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