Germany’s largest science centre the Experimenta promises visitors of all ages an impressive, awe-inspiring experience. The centre has been completely renovated and expanded into a new futuristic building by the Berlin based architectural office Sauerbruch Hutton. The building designed as a helix, emphasises the didactic focus of the science centre with its architecture. The lighting concept, by Licht Kunst Licht, delivers against the versatile room program, offering functional and choreographed lighting.
The new building can be explored in a striking helix – it coils through a dynamic structure of glass and steel, extends from the spacious foyer across five floors up to the roof and leads onto the landscaped roof terrace that offers a spectacular view of the Neckar valley. The paths through the building constantly offer the visitors new views and vistas. At the heart of the spiral there are four creative studios housed in glass boxes, whereas the exhibition rooms are organised around the helix.
The lighting is integrated into the architecture and is cleverly combined into the on-site conditions. This is exemplified in the exhibition lighting, which occurs through track-mounted spotlights. Suspended relatively close to the ceiling slab and arranged according to the rhythm of the acoustic slats, the track system runs parallel to the ceiling beams.
“The illumination layer largely avoids the field of vision for users of the exhibition spaces,” explain Maik Czarniak and Edwin Smida, from Licht Kunst Licht, “What remains is the lighting effect, which can be adapted to the needs of each exhibition with additional tracks.”
The luminaires were fitted into the lamella ceiling of the helix. Linear luminaires arranged in regular grids visually dissolve into the background, while the light itself makes itself very present. Maik Czarniak and Edwin Smida go on to explain:
“Since this concept was consistently implemented across all zones and levels, the spiral is not only manifest within the building, but also in the external view as a uniform and coherent architectural gesture. As a luminous helix it significantly shapes the night image of the Experimenta’s new building on the Neckar.”
Thanks to long-lasting, efficient LED light sources and an intelligent control technology, the light colour can be changed in many places within the building. The luminaires in the helix combine warm white and cool white LEDs, allowing for very different lighting moods. The luminous ceiling above the reception integrates RGB LEDs, creating varied shades that can be blended from red, green and blue light. The bistro is illuminated evenly with neutral white light during the daytime, while warm, incandescent-like islands of light can be brought to the tables for the evening hours. All light sources are organised in sensible switching and dimming groups permitting the operator to configure the lighting according to their requirements.
Photo credit: Roland Halbe
Project: Extension Experimenta Science Center, Heilbronn. www.experimenta.science
Client: Dieter Schwarz Stiftung gGmbH Schwarz Real Estate GmbH & Co. KG, Heilbronn
Architect: Sauerbruch Hutton Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, Berlin
Lighting design: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Bonn / Berlin
Project lead and team: Maik Czarniak und Edwin Smida
Electrical design: Drees & Sommer SE, Stuttgart