Intellect Design Arena Limited is a global leader in Financial Technology for Banking, Insurance and other Financial Services. This $100 million business is a specialist in designing advanced fully integrated technology products for global financial platforms such as Global Consumer Banking [iGCB), Central Banking, Risk, Treasury & Markets [iRTM], Global Transaction Banking ([iGTB] and Insurance [Intellect SEEC] that run in over 200 financial institutions, across 30 countries. Its Chairman and Group CEO, Arun Jain strongly believes that good design is at the heart of making a disruptive transformation on how technology can be used. Most people think of design as an art, but Jain wants to turn design thinking into a science. Intellect’s ‘Next Level’ Second floor office spread over 30,000 sq. ft. within its 22-acre campus in Chennai was set up with this thinking in mind.

The open office design was envisioned as an open culture studio, which breaks hierarchical norms and encourages design thinking. It comprises four zones: first is the work zone consisting of linear coloured workstations; second is the relaxation zone consisting of a coffee shop; and third is the peripheral zone consisting of a library, cabins and meeting rooms; and fourth is the circulation zone consisting of passages interconnecting all these zones. The exposed ceiling with exaggerated HVAC ducts and exposed brick finish for the wall provides a rather rustic look and feel to this modern workspace. Each of the cabins are also named in an unconventional format such as ‘Omega Room’ for the large discussion space and ‘Digital Core’, ‘Digital Wealth’ etc., for the smaller cabins so as to enhance this open culture of design thinking.

For the lighting of the work zone, absence of any false ceiling resulted in a breakaway from the typical checkerboard grid recessed 600×600 luminaires. Additionally, visual and circadian lighting design features mildly inspired by the WELL Building Standard for Light were used in the overall design process. The WELL Building Standard is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact on occupants’ health and wellbeing (1). WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute [IWBI], a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well being through the built environment. It identifies seven concepts – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind – which all focus on people including features that are either preconditions [mandatory] or optimisations [optional]. The WELL Building Standard for Light provides illumination guidelines that are aimed to minimize disruption to the body’s circadian system, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity where needed.

As per the WELL Standard, the visual lighting design feature sets a target for background illuminance at 215 lux on a horizontal plane 0.76m above the finished floor along with localised lighting wherever the illuminance needs to be 300 lux or 500 lux. The circadian lighting design feature sets a target of 250 equivalent melanopic lux [EML] measured vertically at 1.2m above finished floor level. However, 250 lux must be present in 75% of workstations for four hours a day, everyday of the year, and can be a combination of daylight and electric light. The WELL standard offers a table of lamp correlated colour temperature [CCT] factors to calculate the EML. Using this method, a 4,000K neutral white lamp having a factor of 0.58 and providing an illuminance of 100 lux will provide [0.58×100=] 58 EML. Therefore it can be deduced that a cooler 6,500K lamp having a factor of 1.02 will deliver the 250 EML far more efficiently than the neutral 4,000K or a warmer 3,000K lamp having a factor or 0.45 (2).

A preliminary survey of the offices on other floors suggested that users had a preference of 4,000K instead of 6,500K for their workstations. Research reveals that blue-rich ambient light leads to smaller pupils, which in turn increase individuals’ depth of field and visual acuity compared to blue deficient ambient light; this means that blue-rich light is suitable for visual performance of tasks as it produces higher contrast (3,4). Research also reveals that high CCTs in the range of 17000K could provide a useful intervention to improve wellbeing and productivity in the corporate setting (5). Therefore a combination of 4,000K and blue-light was used so as to respect users’ preference, meet the desired EML and improve visual acuity. Localised lighting is provided using a combination of direct and direct-indirect suspended profile LED luminaires over each desk. The direct component consists of 4,000K LED while the indirect component consists of Blue LED. Instead of providing a uniform blanket of light, the indirect blue-light is used in a randomised intermittent bright and less-bright pattern so as to break the monotony and create visual interest (6).

Research indicates that people prefer warm white lighting for more pleasant and emotional activities (7). Therefore, warmer colour temperatures of 2500K and 3000K were used for the lighting of the relaxation, peripheral, and circulation zones. Decorative pendants and wall brackets with exposed 2500K LED filament lamps were used in the coffee shop and library areas to further enhance the rustic look of this modern workspace. Suspended 3000K LED semi-diffuse linear profiles and industrial pendants were used in the cabins and meeting rooms respectively to provide soft diffuse illumination conducive for discussions. Suspended 3000K LED downlights creating accentuated spots on the floor were used to define the circulation routes between the different zones. Use of 100% SSL technology resulted in an overall LPD of 0.36 W/ft2, which is well below the prescribed energy standards.

1. International WELL Building Institute. WELL Building Standard. V1 ed. New York, NY, USA: Delos Living LLC; 2016. 237 p.
2. Bissell A. A Healthy Light Style. CIBSE Journal. London, UK; 2016 Dec;42–4.
3. Navvab M. Visual Performance Analysis of Office Occupants Working Under Realistic Luminous Environment Conditions [Internet]. Full Spectrum Solutions. 2001. Available from:
4. Benya J, Heschong L, McGowan T, Miller N, Rubinstein F, Erwine B, et al. Advanced Lighting Guidelines [Internet]. Eley C, Robers J, Flood R, editors. White Salmon, WA, USA: New Buildings Institute Inc.; 2003. 445 p. Available from:
5. Mills PR, Tomkins SC, Schlangen LJ. The effect of high correlated colour temperature office lighting on employee wellbeing and work performance. J Circadian Rhythms. 2007;5(2).
6. Dugar AM. When research meets design. Professional Lighting Design. Guetersloh, GERMANY: VIA-Verlag; 2010;74:44–7.
7. de Kort Y, Smolders K. Effects of dynamic lighting on office workers: First results of a field study with monthly alternating settingse. Light Res Technol. 2010;42:345–60.

Dr. Amardeep Dugar
Lighting Research & Design

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