Shedding light on history
Jun 23, 2015

With their design for the historical archive for the Basque country (“Archivo Histórico de Euskadi”) ACXT Architekten have closed a gap left in an otherwise dense residential block in Bilbao. Living and archive work are two uses that complement each other, just as the bright new build melds with the existing frontages. And to give visitors a taste of what is to come inside the archive, the architects resolved to have the strikingly zig-zagging glass façade printed with quotations from the collection of documents. What the visitor cannot intuit from outside, however, is that the building has a total of 11 floors, seven above the ground, housing the administration, the reading rooms and the exhibition space. The other four are underground and home to the storage rooms for the extensive collection of historical documents.

To make certain as much daylight as possible gets into the rooms, the floors are connected to one another by a central high atrium. Broad lighting shafts located in the rear courtyard ensure that even the corridors in the underground sections still benefit from natural lighting. The walls are resplendent in gleaming white and only in a few places is there fresh red or yellow to create a color accent or two. Where natural daylight no longer suffices, luminaires by Prolicht provide the right degree of brightness.
For the conference rooms and offices, the architects chose rectangular flush-mounted ceiling luminaires from the “White Line” range. They ensure plus- 3300 Kelvin brightness for the workstations, a color temperature similar to daylight and an ideal precondition for focused work. Prolicht’s “Smooth Line” with rounded edges, arranged in asymmetrical patterns on the ceiling, brings a little diversity to the otherwise minimalist design of the conference rooms. Round flush-mounted luminaires from the “Sign Round” range, installed smoothly in the ceilings of the archive corridors and the underground carpark, rely on a high-grade diffusor to diffract the direct light while evenly illuminating the in part long paths.

Telling façade: The flowing lines of writing on the frontage of the “Archivo Histórico de Euscadi” symbolize the documents it houses. Photo © Aitor Ortiz

Staff offices: The rimless “Smooth Line” luminaires with their rounded edges are somewhat softer. Individual red sections create a sense of diversity in the otherwise gleaming white rooms. Photo © Aitor Ortiz

Bright surfaces and the light from “White Lines” ensure that even in the building’s depths, such as in the underground carpark, have no oppressive feel to them. Photo © Aitor Ortiz

The rimless “Sign Round” ceiling luminaires bring light to all pathways – such as the long corridors, and really set the white and yellow of the walls aglow. The document archives are concealed behind the doors. Photo © Aitor Ortiz

The playful variant: In some reading rooms, the “Smooth Line” flush-mounted ceiling luminaires have been positioned asymmetrically, thus giving the ceiling a texture of its own. Photo © Aitor Ortiz