The Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Germany has been built for the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus and was officially opened in September 2019 by Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the new museum, the full, prized Bauhaus collection is entirely presented in an impressive space for public display, marking the movement that shaped 20th-century art, design and architecture. The collection of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation comprises around 49,000 catalogued exhibits and is the second-largest collection worldwide on the theme of the Bauhaus. There is an exhibition space of 2,100 square metres and a total usable area of 3,500 square metres.
The Bauhaus Museum Dessau was designed by addenda architects (González Hinz Zabala), an interdisciplinary architecture office from Barcelona. The lighting scheme was designed by Lichtvision based in Berlin, Hong Kong and London. The exhibition lighting by Envue Homburg Licht and solutions by Zumtobel. Zumtobel, as the exclusive lighting partner, supplied all lighting solutions and collaborated closely with the responsible architects, exhibition designers and lighting designers during the planning and implementation phases.
The museum concept is a building within a building, comprising a soaring steelwork block in a glass envelope. On the upper floor, a hermetic ‘Black Box’ enables the presentation of the collection, along with the tasks of collection, preservation and conservation of artefacts. The transparent ground floor, the museum foyer, will serve as an open platform offering among other things curatorial freedom for temporary exhibitions of contemporary works and events.
Trends in Lighting caught up with the project director Carla Wilkins from Lichtvision Design to understand the process and themes behind the lighting scheme.
Project Director Bio:
Trained as an architect, Carla Wilkins worked as an independent lighting designer in New York City, Cologne and Berlin since 1989. As Founding Partner she is Lichtvision’s Creative Head and oversees both concept and planning in Lichtvision Design Berlin-Hongkong-London. Carla is a professional member of the International Lighting Designer Association, IALD and is a Board Member of Werkbund Berlin.
TiL: The architects imagined a laboratory, a workshop, an open house to work flexibly for various programmes. How did you initially consider designing for a multi-purpose space?
CW: The Bauhaus’ DNA is the comprised synergy of diverse talents. It was always in the brief of the client to provide a multi-purpose space on the ground floor. Adjustability, pragmatism and an overall industrial feel were cornerstones of our approach.
TiL: How important was energy efficiency when designing for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation?
CW: Energy efficiency is a fundamental part of the design nowadays. An asset of design thinking is the most efficient and responsible use of the tools at our disposal.
TiL: Can you explain how Lichtvision uses photometry in the schematic phase?
CW: From the beginning of a project we think and sketch in terms of photometry data when designing the lighting for a space. The choice of products comes later and only serves the vision that we established beforehand.
TiL: How does the chosen lighting scheme adapt with natural light?
CW: Due to the large-scale glass façade with integrated shading and solar control glazing we had to make difficult choices to conform with the architectural design. We provided a DALI lighting control system and grouped the fittings in order to provide a sleek interior appearance devoted to functionality. Consequently, the translucent appearance at daytime is limited and the museum reveals its full remarkable transparency at night showing the open space on the ground level.
TiL: How do you work with the architect to adjust the daylight requirements and thus make changes to the architect’s design?
CW: We discussed these topics during the design process, some requirements had an influence, some not.
TiL: Which new technologies did you implement and for what reasons?
CW: We have added Bluetooth beacon technology in the luminaires to make the facilities future-proof for upcoming communications tools.
TiL: What are the biggest challenges when implementing lighting control systems?
CW: The industry standard DALI has made it possible for us to overcome most technical challenges in a manageable way.
TiL: Did you feel the pressure designing something so important to Berlin’s design community?
CW: The Bauhaus Museum Dessau is part of the strong heritage ensemble of the Bauhaus in Dessau and a worldwide known brand. As part of the Lichtvision Design team, I am delighted to be part of this outstanding project. We had a collaborative project team of architects, consultants and the client. The pressure was shared and at the end it was an honour to be part of the team.
From 1919 to 1933, a group of exceptional minds created came together through architecture, art, dance, design, typography, as well as photography and film. The freedom of the Weimar Republic not only allowed the Bauhaus to flourish, but became a leading form of expression in this era. Most of the Bauhaus artists were democrats, and they realised that the Weimar era was one that offered political freedom, as well as the freedom of artistic creation. Dessau is the city most closely associated with the Bauhaus and where the school of design was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919.
Image Credits: © Zumtobel and Photos by Faruk Pinjo