The concept of acoustic lighting—which revolves around the seamless integration of lighting and room acoustics—has grown in popularity recently among designers and architects. In commercial spaces, light and sound are two main environmental factors that affect our health, mood and wellbeing, and are critical to the overall quality of the user experience.

It is no wonder then that lighting and acoustics were top priorities in the recent upgrade of Qantas Domestic Terminal 1 at Melbourne Airport. Over an extensive year-long design development period, Newmat collaborated closely with Hassell, builders MAZ Group, acoustic consultants GUZ BOX design + audio, and lighting designers Electrolight to craft an innovative acoustic solution that harmoniously integrates illumination.

Cutting-edge acoustic lighting transforms Qantas Domestic Melbourne
Photography: Maz Group

Newmat acoustic lightboxes are known for their ability to provide both even light distribution and acoustic absorption simultaneously without the typical perforations found in many acoustic products. “Newmat achieves this through a 3-layer system, comprising two microperf translucent membranes and an internal layer of concealed acoustic batting behind the lensed LED, resulting in superior acoustic performance,” explains Marc Ryan, Managing Director of Newmat Australia.

An airport installation can be complex given the need to comply with strict airport guidelines relating to performance, warranty and maintenance. While the project team identified a unique product in Newmat that could elevate the space visually and acoustically, it was also important to navigate these practical challenges to deliver a long-lasting solution.

Cutting-edge acoustic lighting transforms Qantas Domestic Melbourne
Photography: Maz Group

Aryetta Pazpinis, senior designer and project lead for Newmat, collaborated with Hassell to design and implement a solution that met the needs of all stakeholders. For example, the maintenance of Terminal 1’s large ceiling area posed challenges in terms of accessibility. Aryetta 3D-modelled and prototyped a straightforward concept that would enable anyone to safely access the lightboxes without the need for special tools. With the goal of supporting maintenance tasks now and into the future, clear, illustrative manuals were drawn to ensure proper procedures are followed.

Cutting-edge acoustic lighting transforms Qantas Domestic Melbourne
Illustrative manuals produced by Aryetta for maintenance engineers to service equipment above NEWMAT lightboxes.

The scale and execution of the project were impressive. Over 500 acoustic light boxes were manufactured, tested, and shipped by Newmat’s Sydney facilities to their Melbourne headquarters. After that, the site crew started putting the seismic subframe system in place. When Melbourne experienced its most significant earthquake in 120 years in mid-2023, none of the boxes dropped or shifted, a testament to the robustness and quality of the seismic ceiling system.

Melbourne Airport-based MAZ Group builders were essential in arranging trades in the sensitive airport setting. The project was executed flawlessly thanks to the efforts of construction manager Jay Garoni and site manager Daniel Whiteside, who made sure that Newmat’s crucial role in the fit-out was properly accommodated on-site.

With the collaborative effort, Terminal 1 now reflects the best of Victoria and Melbourne Airport, providing staff and travellers an enhanced airport space that sets new standards for functionality and design.

For more information on NEWMAT’s acoustic lighting solutions, visit their website here.


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