The Polygon Gallery is an art gallery operated by the British Columbia Photography and Media Arts Society in Vancouver, and Canada’s largest non-profit photo gallery. The striking new building, designed by Patkau Architects, is located on an exposed site right on the harbour and features the Vancouver City skyline as its backdrop. ERCO LED lighting tools for track were used both in the exhibition spaces and shop area of the gallery, combining a high degree of flexibility with a linear design and efficient visual comfort.
The local planning offices of Patkau Architects, which received the commission for the new building, designed it as a striking two-floor construction with a saw-tooth roof. Polygon Gallery is situated in an exposed location directly on the waterfront, on a newly created plaza at Lower Lonsdale’s harbour quay. The almost completely enclosed gallery floor with its characteristic saw-tooth roofs crowns the large glazed ground floor with foyer, cafe and shop, offering views into and through the building from the outside. The facade shell of perforated stainless steel shingles enables the building to blend into its urban surroundings and, depending on the daylight makes it appear in iridescent grey and silver tones.
The gallery shows a wide spectrum of Canadian contemporary art by both local and international artists with a focus on photography and media art within the context of historical and international exhibits. The architects designed the two largest exhibition rooms on the upper floor to be airy and spacious, which receive daylight exclusively through the northern-facing skylights. This ensures glare-free illumination of the spaces during the day without hard shadows. To keep the difference between daylight and artificial light as low as possible, the lighting designers opted for ERCO LED lighting tools with a neutral white 4000K light colour. In the Polygon Gallery, the luminaires demonstrate their ability to ideally meet the most varied of lighting requirements within an art context – with uniform, glare-free general lighting on the one hand and crisp accentuation of the exhibits on the other.
The horizontal steel girders below the saw-tooth roofs accommodate a flush-mounted track system on which Light Board spotlights and lens wall-washers have been mounted. Thanks to simple re-positioning, these can be flexibly modified to the general concept and exhibits of the specific exhibition, and also precisely aligned. The orientation of the luminaires pays homage to the so-called museum angle, considered ideal for the illumination of art: the 30 degree angle of incidence avoids glare for observers that might be caused by reflections on paintings, photo works or media art. The convenient adjust-ability, the innovative lighting technology and the simple linear design of Light Board completely convinced the lighting designers. The control gear is integrated into the flat housing of the luminaires, the luminaires appear completely uniform and identical in construction even when fitted with different lenses and are also visually discreet within the overall design of the exhibition spaces.
The architects underlined the contrast between the transparently designed ground floor and the closed upper floor of the Polygon Gallery via their selection of different LED lighting tools. In the large glazed ground floor where the entrance area with reception, shop and lobby café merge, individual exhibits are crisply illuminated with Pollux contour spotlights. In this way the art works set themselves apart from the sales areas and draw attention to the actual exhibitions on the upper floor.
Client: Polygon Gallery, Vancouver / Canada
Architecture: Patkau Architects, Vancouver / Canada
Lighting design: render light & planning, inc., Vancouver / Canada
Photography: Moritz Hillebrand, Zurich / Switzerland
Photo credits: © ERCO GmbH, www.erco.com