i.Lab meets the strictest requirements in terms of energy saving and innovative design and is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “Platinum” certified, the highest energy and environmental certification standard in the world for buildings. The basic requirement for the lighting design, by Piero Castiglioni and Guido Bianchi was for complete camouflaging of the luminaires in the setting. All of the luminaries had to be absorbed by the architectural structure. There were to be no “obvious” lights: what had to be highlighted was the structure and the material used.
This building’s architectural lighting emphasises the main entrance area, accentuated by a cantilever roof, projecting around 20 metres, and a concrete-lined space, which also helps to mark out the horizontal extension of the entire building. The cantilever roof creates a large, two storey high covered outdoor square, blending naturally into the glazed entrance hall which, in turn, joins the two wings of the building.
The hall and communal areas have fluorescent and metal halide Lightshed luminaires, with iGuzzini luminaires providing general lighting. Richard Meier created a structure split into two storeys above ground level, for laboratories and offices, plus another two storeys below ground, covering a total of 11,000 square metres, of which 7,500 are exclusively for research laboratories.
The laboratory area is lit with special (iN70) luminaires, whose light washes over the ceiling and which have a dark light optic for controlled luminance. The lighting in this area was set up by working closely with the makers of the partition walls: the need for enough lighting for work tables had to be reconciled with the need to leave the ceiling free to house the extractors essential in this environment where many chemicals are handled. The laboratories are in the first wing, parallel with the motorway, together with the offices and a large library of more than 10,000 books which is a reference point for the designers and engineers dealing with cement- and concrete-related matters. The outside of this wing is lit by fluorescent Linealuce recessed luminaires for grazing light, combined with Platea floodlights. The second wing, perpendicular to the first, has a ground floor cafeteria and a large conference room, whilst there are reception/sales offices on the upper storey.
The conference room can seat up to 240, is double-height, with windows giving onto the inner courtyard and has access to the upper storey. The volume is intersected by a second, smaller room, at the upper storey, intended for meetings and work gatherings. This second meeting room is lit by Light Air luminaires, whilst the main conference room is lit with Hub lights, arranged in ceiling grooves and alternating with LED recessed luminaires. For the foyer lighting we used Deep Frame LED luminaires.The offices are lit with Light Shed luminaires, cast into the reinforced concrete, and with special “cantilever” iRoll luminaires, mounted on an arm. All of the luminaires used are compatible with the DALI protocol.