Brightening up the Retirement Years

Potential water leaks from traditional shafted skylights and inflexibility where they could be installed motivated design and construction company Paladin Projects to seek an alternative light source for a major South-East Queensland retirement village development.

Brisbane-based Paladin Projects is a collective of construction industry professionals, encompassing everything from design through to construction. Paladin is currently involved in design and construction of independent living/aged care developments for a range of clients.

One of its current major projects involves building four stages of a large-scale retirement village in Redcliffe, Queensland (35 minutes north of Brisbane’s CBD) for aged care facilities management and services provider, The Village Retirement Group (VRG). Once finished, Paladin Projects will have provided a total of 80 independent living units to this prestige development.

Coming into the build on the ninth stage of eleven, Paladin Projects identified the traditional shafted
skylights that had initially been installed could be improved on.

According to Wendy Gidney, Project Manager for Paladin Projects, the skylights that had been installed were causing maintenance issues and not fulfilling all their desired design outcomes for leveraging natural light sources in areas of the villas where there was little or no natural light.

“We found that there were various issues with the previous traditional shafted skylights,” Gidney said. “These included the amount of light they provided due to the positioning of the unit and the fact that the roof penetrations were causing water leaks.”

These issues motivated Paladin Projects to look for a sustainable lighting solution that would offer an alternative source of light while also providing more positional flexibility.

In its market search, Paladin discovered the illume Skylight Alternative, a solar-powered diffuser panel from Melbourne’s Kimberley Products. Sold as an all-in-one kit, illume is a lighting solution that mimics the lighting conditions outside with the added advantage of having the flexibility to be installed anywhere.

A sealed unit that eliminates the water leaks, dead insects, heat transfer and UV emissions that are inherent with traditional shafted skylight systems, the solar collector-connected illume products dim and brighten in harmony with external weather conditions.

“We first saw the illume products at one of the large hardware stores,” Gidney said. “We liked the concept of using solar power as a skylight alternative and presented the idea to the client after making sure they could be supplied in the sizes and light quality we required.”

Having gained approval from VRG to install illumes on the current project stage it was working on, Paladin started incorporating illume into the design of future developments, as well as retrofitting them to some of the units already built.
“We now install the illume Skylight Alternatives in each unit of this project as we build them,” she said. “There is one in the garage over the laundry area and another one in the windowless internal bathroom.

“Subsequently, VRG has standardised the use of illume products for all its Redcliffe units and they have since started to filter that change throughout their constructions of other villages.” At Redcliffe, each unit is now fitted with two 350 mm circular illumes per unit. In full sunlight, they generated 2100 lumens with a total of 160 to be fitted through the next three stages of the Redcliffe retirement village development. Installation of the solar panels is undertaken at roof-works stage and then the light panels are installed after internal sheeting and painting has taken place.

Gidney said that there are numerous benefits Paladin and VRG are gaining from the transition to the illume Skylight Alternative as a source of light. “The light quality is good,” she said. “As we get older, our eyes require stronger natural light in
working spaces and an illume has a good level of lumens to fulfil this function.

“They are cost-effective, easy to install, have a functional design that is simple and practical and out of the 64 Illumes we have installed, we have only had to replace one, due to a minor fault. “I have no hesitation in recommending illume as an alternative to traditional skylights. They represent a great complement to mains-powered light sources during daylight hours.

“Traditionally, these types of whole-of-project product changes are instigated by an Architect within their design concepts,” Gidney said. “Identifying an opportunity for improvement, researching the market place for alternatives, sourcing a viable solution and then successfully delivering this change for the project going forward is testament to the skills and experience we have at Paladin.

“It shows that we are more than just a construction company.”