Opening of the New Sydney Modern Project

We are excited about the much-anticipated recent opening of the new Sydney Modern project to the public.

Steensen Varming are privileged to have been involved with various key projects for the AGNSW over the last 30 years and are honoured to have been part of the next chapter of the AGNSW in designing the mechanical, electrical and vertical transportation services for the Sydney Modern project, as well as the finalisation and delivery of the lighting design during construction.

Congratulations to AGNSW, SANAA architects, Architectus and Richard Crookes Constructions on delivering this most significant cultural building for Sydney and Australia.

The IES NSW Lighting Design Awards 2022

Last week we attended the IES NSW Lighting Design Awards night. It was good to re-connect and meet in person after a 2-year break, and also to come home with two awards for our projects.

We would like to congratulate all award winners as well as the event organizers, and thank our clients and collaborators. We are humbled by the trust that has been and continues to be put in us and are looking forward to continuing to contribute to positive environments and outcomes.


Woodriff Lane – IES NSW Award of Commendation

The project is a catalyst and part of a larger Council strategy to bring people back into the city centre in the evening, enhance walkability, activation of the nighttime economy and support pedestrian connections. The solution achieves the project objectives through a simple yet imaginative design, creating a memorable, inviting space for the community and bringing joy to the nighttime experience.

Made from coloured sail cloth with a triangulated motif, the shades speak to the namesake of the installation; Daniel Woodriff, a British Royal Navy officer and navigator in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century who was granted 1,000 acres in Penrith. A subtle nod to the history of the site adds integrity to the placemaking strategy.

The lamp shade is locally designed and fabricated, minimising transport and supporting sustainability initiatives. Furthermore, the creative and simple solution developed utilises the existing infrastructure, minimising cost as well as making use of resources still within their design life.

Collaborator: KI STUDIO
Client: Penrith City Council

The Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand:





Dangrove – IES NSW Award of Excellence

The lighting solution for Dangrove looks beyond the typical architectural and museum luminaire range, adapting a stage lighting design approach to light the display walls from the stepped mesh ceiling with theatrical DMX controlled RGBAL performance luminaires. Track and track lighting are mounted in a channel running across the gallery at each level of the ceiling arrangement to facilitate spotlighting of individual artworks below.

The innovative strategy of adapting stage performance lighting to act as display wallwashing in a museum environment has the additional advantage of also being used to support special events, performances and festivals, and by artists and performers in the creation of site-specific artworks with a full range of colour changing dynamic dimming capabilities.

Architect: Tzannes
Photographer: Ben Guthrie, The Guthrie Project

The Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand:


NEW AARCH wins Danish Building of the Year 2021

The Aarhus School of Architecture is a story about collaboration.

‘New Aarch’ is the first new building for a school of architecture ever to be built in Denmark. Resembling an industrial building, it is carefully constructed to encourage the incubation of new architectural ideas, foster community involvement and minimise use of energy and resources.

On the New Aarch project, Steensen Varming worked together with architectural practice ADEPT and fellow engineering firm Tri Consult. The key area of works was conserving resource and energy consumption within the New Aarch building. Steensen Varming provided detailed calculations to ensure an optimum balance between reducing energy consumption while also ensuring students’ had good lighting, a comfortable temperature environment, fresh air and sun protection.

Steensen Varming would like to congratulate the entire design team on receiving a design award in the open category of the Annual Building Awards organised by the Danish Byggeri Magazine.

Client: Bygningsstyrelsen / Arkitektskolen Aarhus
Lead consultant / architect: ADEPT
Engineer: Tri-Consult
Main contractor: A. Enggaard A/S
Architect collaboration competition and concept proposal: ADEPT, Vargo Nielsen Palle, Rolvung & Brøndsted
Client consulting: Etos Ingeniører, A2, Nord Arkitekter
Other consultants: Steensen Varming, Lendager Arktekter
Landscape: ADEPT
Art: Lea Porsager
Library: Praksis Arkitekter
For more information about the award head to Åretsbyggeri

Image credit: Rasmus Hjortshøj

Social Initiative – Season’s Greetings Card 2021

Since our foundation in 1933, Steensen Varming has shown a commitment to creating ‘positive environments’, and continuously improving our practices to the benefit of the local and global environment and communities. We consider environmental and social issues to be essential to a responsible business. Through our commitment to the UNSDG’s and B Corp certification we have broadened our approach and are supporting ethical businesses and social initiatives within our local communities in each of our regions.

Having had a long history in supporting emerging artists, one of our initiatives in Australia is supporting indigenous businesses and young indigenous artists:

The work of emerging artist Anna Dowling, a descendant of the Badimia people of the Yamatji region in Western Australia, reflects the beauty, diversity and value of Aboriginal culture – Gallery – Anna Dowling

Her work “Life Water” centres on the traditional Aboriginal symbol for river, and focusses on the need for protecting and preserving our environmental and water systems and respecting the strong traditional, cultural connections that Aboriginal people have to these locations. This reflects our own eco-centric principles and the global challenge to comprehensively address climate change and sustainability as one of the most important issues of our time.

The work echoes our ethos but also marks the beginning of our own journey of reconciliation:

We believe the aboriginal culture to be one of the few human cultures to understand and live by sustainable practices that balance their needs with those of nature, never over-exploiting the environment to their own gain. To strengthen these connections, build relationships, respect and trust, Steensen Varming is creating a Reconciliation Action Plan which we will embark on in 2022.

The choice of art from an emerging artist of aboriginal decent with a depiction of an important environmental issue seemed a natural choice as a reflection of our own purpose.

At the turn of the year, a time where we think about and appreciate our collaborators and friends, posting a handwritten card feels more personal than sending an e-card. The card making process involved ethical and sustainable business Kailow in Denmark and Australian aboriginal business Ochre Dawn in Australia, ensuring that the cards, which are made of recycled paper with carbon emissions offset, have a wider benefit.

We look forward to sharing further stories from other regions soon.

Scott Base Redevelopment Funding Announced!

The New Zealand Treasury has today announced $344 million in funding for the Scott Base Redevelopment in Antarctica in the 2021 Budget. As the building services engineers on the project, Steensen Varming has been working closely with Antarctica New Zealand and the design team since 2017.

The new redevelopment will be home to world-leading scientists in one of the most isolated places on Earth, maintaining New Zealand’s continuous presence on the continent since 1957. With a target of 97% renewable energy use for the Scott Base Redevelopment, New Zealand’s environmental leadership within the Antarctic Treaty is central to the design.

Other consultants working on the project include Jasmax and Hugh Broughton Architects (Architecture), WSP (Civil and Structural Engineer), The Building Intelligence Group (Design Manager), Rawlinsons (Quantity Surveyor), Acor Consultants (Fire, Hydraulics and Fuel), and Holmes Fire (Fire Engineering). Leighs Construction will construct the buildings off-site in New Zealand and they will be shipped in large format modules to Antarctica to be installed.

Image Credit: Jasmax and Hugh Broughton Architects

Architects Henning Larsen wins Sydney Design Competition

The Henning Larsen winning design for this urban park-centred development, which provides additional parkland and recreational space for the city of Sydney, has been selected by GPT Group and AMP Capital as the winning concept for their $650 million, 73,000m2 office and retail redevelopment of the Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf.

Situated at the western edge of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD), occupying a significant waterfront location overlooking Darling Harbour, the new tall building will be an elegant addition to the Sydney skyline.

The Henning Larsen design realises the original city vision for the site, connecting the Harbour with its workers, residents and visitors. The development will be a new vibrant mixed-use waterfront neighbourhood destination for Sydney providing a choice of experiences.

Steensen Varming’s Copenhagen and Sydney studios worked together to provide building services solutions to assist Henning Larsen in the creating the winning competition design for this new iconic landmark building for Sydney. The last time Steensen Varming successfully collaborated with a Danish Architect on an Australian Design Competition was for the Sydney Opera House. The high-quality integrated engineered solutions proposed for this development, facilitates energy efficiency, flexibility and sustainability which will contribute to the wellbeing of worker, visitor and the general public in a positive manner.

Architecture: Henning Larsen
Landscape Architect: McGregor Coxall
Retail: Geoffreything Studio
Structural + Civil Engineering: Enstruct
Façade: Henning Larsen and Thornton Tomasetti
Sustainability: Henning Larsen and Steensen Varming
Mechanical Services: Steensen Varming
Lighting: Steensen Varming
Electrical: Steensen Varming
Fire and Hydraulics: Warren Smith and Partners
Fire Engineering: RED
Vertical Transportation: Steensen Varming
Image Credit: Henning Larsen

Shining a light on Ghana Freedom at the 58th…

The debut Ghana Pavilion, located in the Artiglierie of the historic Arsenale, Venice showcases a multi-generational lineup of six eminent Ghanian artists: El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, Felicia Abban, John Akomfrah, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Selasi Awusi Sosu. Titled ’Ghana Freedom,’ after the 1957 independence song by ET Mensah, the theme explores the legacies and trajectories of the nation’s independence from british colonial rule.

The pavilion is designed by UK-Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye, curated by renowned Ghanian Cultural Historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim, and the late Okwui Enwezor served as its strategic advisor.

The pavilion, with its elliptical shape, is inspired by the interconnected earthen architectural shapes throughout West Africa and clad with laterite soil sourced from Ghana. As villages have their own elliptical spaced volumes, so do each of the artists.

Steensen Varming provided the lighting design working with Adjaye’s vision. The lighting for the pavilion establishes an ambience that ensures the artworks are centre stage within their culturally expressive pavilion. Lighting was therefore designed to match the intent and approach for the individual pieces, working in collaboration with the artists to ensure they were accurately represented.

Ibrahim Mahama and El Anatsuis are exhibited in the outer spaces to welcome visitors into the pavilion. Both artists have designed sculptural works that follow the line of the main curved walls. Ibrahims work is made up of many small items integrated within a larger structure, whilst El’s work is a tapestry ofmetal printing plates, bottle tops and copper wires fashioned together to shimmer like drapped fabric.

In both spaces, the pieces are to be read as one complete work that extends across the space. Ibrahim’s has been lit evenly to connect the different structural elements and objects together, whilst El’s lighting subtley accentuates the work to emhasise movement and play of shadows created by the piece itself.

In some spaces such as those occupied by the AV works of John Akomfrah and Selasie A Sous, Steensen Varming adopt their ’embrace the darkness’ approach, allowing the projections to command the space, with the exception of Selasie’s bottle sculpture accentuated gently to balance visually with the adjoining projections.

Lynette Y Boakyeand Felicia Abban are placed in the two centre spaces, Lynette’s being large paintings with deep tones and layered textures, and Felicia’s work delicate black and white portraits. The two spaces are lit in opposing manners to complement the works, where Lynette’s is wall-washed allowing the darker tones and textures to be read together with the surrounding space, Felicia’s lighting is focused and cropped to accentuate the detail of the photographs whilst allowing the surrounding to drop back into darkness.

Short deadlines, a broad international team and working with a lighting hire company posed the challenges in this unique and ambitious project. Working collaboratively during the commissioning period ensured a successful outcome and definitely worth traveling to Venice for this year.

Steensen Varming are currently working with Adjaye Associates on various projects including the Ghana Cathedral in Accra.

Happy Holidays

From Copenhagen, London, Sydney, Hong Kong and New York, we wish all of our friends, clients and collaborators a happy holiday season!

Please note that our Studios will be closed on the following days during the holiday season:

  • Our Copenhagen Studio will be closed midday on Friday 21 December 2018 and reopen on Wednesday 2 January 2019
  • Our London Studio will be closed midday on Friday 21 December 2018 and reopen on Wednesday 2 January 2019
  • Our Sydney Studio will be closed midday on Friday 21 December 2018 and reopen on Monday 7 January 2019
  • Our Canberra Studio will be closed midday on Friday 21 December 2018 and reopen on Monday 7 January 2019
  • Our Hong Kong Studio will be closed midday on Monday 24 December 2018 through Thursday 27 December 2018 and closed on Tuesday 1 January 2019

CSIRO Black Mountain Synergy building takes the awards!

At the Australian Institute of Architects ACT Chapter Awards, CSIRO Black Mountain’s Synergy building received The Romaldo Guirgola Award for Public Architecture, The Derek Wrigley Award for Sustainable Architecture as well as an award for Interior Architecture.

According to the ACT jury for Public Architecture, “Synergy is architecturally finessed. Its clear palette, vibrant light, high level of interior amenity and excellent ESD credentials (that are embedded in and exploited for architectural beauty) yields a workplace that seeks to restore the spirits and wellbeing of a revered organisation.”

The Sustainability jury commented that “Every opening to the façade is thoughtfully considered’ whether to permit the workspace to be fully naturally ventilated; to direct views to Canberra icons; or encourage incidental encounter and collaboration. The sheer amount of natural light that is provided to the laboratory spaces, despite their strict environmental requirements, is incredibly refreshing and well executed.”

Steensen Varming delivered Mechanical Engineering, Specialist Gases and ESD design as part of the BVN design team for the new PC2 laboratory facilities for CSIRO.

Read more about the project here.

Part of New Zealand’s Coolest Redevelopment

We are very excited to announce that we are part of New Zealand’s coolest redevelopment. Media release by Antarctica New Zealand:

Scott Base is about to go under the microscope as a group of specialist designers takes up the call for the redevelopment of New Zealand’s home in Antarctica.

The facility is reaching the end of its functional life and needs to be redeveloped to manage risk, maintain standards and support the requirements of New Zealand’s world-class scientists. Antarctica New Zealand has contracted experts in four disciplines that can deliver on cold climate design.

The four successful applicants within each discipline are:

  • Architecture: Jasmax-Hugh Broughton Architects
  • Quantity Surveying: Turner and Townsend
  • Structural/Civil Engineering: WSP Opus
  • Building Services: Steensen Varming

This team will spend the next 12 months creating four concept designs based on user requirements, site investigations to understand environmental constraints and any learning from the experience of other National Antarctic Programmes. Antarctica New Zealand will then recommend a preferred option for a modern, low-impact, efficient facility that satisfies New Zealand’s scientific needs and strategic interests. This Detailed Business Case with concept designs will be presented to government in December 2018.

Scott Base Redevelopment Project Manager, Simon Shelton, says the chosen companies fit well with Antarctica New Zealand’s values and passion for the harsh continent.

“It’s important to us that they complement Antarctica New Zealand on this journey. They need to be able to work as part of our organisation and understand our environmental, cultural and logistical requirements,” he says. “We chose these organisations for their operational skill, innovation, values and willingness to collaborate”.

Euan MacKellar of Jasmax, one half of the Jasmax-Hugh Broughton Architects team, is looking forward to the challenge of designing New Zealand’s future physical presence in Antarctica.

“It is an incredible honour to be working with Antarctica New Zealand on the plans to redevelop Scott Base, where we will need to deliver high performance buildings in one of the most extreme natural environments on the planet,” he says. “It is a huge privilege to be part of the committed team creating designs which will help our scientists working in Antarctica to better understand our environment as we strive to protect our planet for generations to come”.

Antarctica New Zealand is the government agency charged with carrying out New Zealand’s activities in Antarctica, supporting world-leading science and environmental protection. New Zealand has occupied Scott Base every day since it was established by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1957 and is recognised as a leader in the international Antarctic Treaty System. Mr Shelton says it’s therefore important that Scott Base is a safe, fit-for-purpose facility well into the future.

“We intend to role-model environmental stewardship while creating a design that caters for New Zealand’s scientific and strategic needs in Antarctica. We are looking for efficiencies in how we, and our facilities, operate through all aspects of the design.”

This Detailed Business Case will cost 6.14 million dollars and has been funded by the Government.

A team of four designers visited Antarctica in December and then again in February to begin the design process.


  1. Jamie Lester (WSP Opus), Stephen Middleton (Jasmax), Martin Craig (Steensen Varming), Simon Shelton (Antarctica New Zealand), Hugh Broughton (Hugh Broughton Architects).
  2. Scott Base with Mount Erebus in background. Photo by Dr Fiona Shanhun