Light in the Temple

Zumtobel has developed a customized lighting concept for the new James-Simon-Galerie in Berlin.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 8/19/2019

The James-Simon-Galerie is the spectacular new entrance building for the five buildings that make up the Museum Island in Berlin. In their design David Chipperfield and Alexander Schwarz produced a modern interpretation of classic elements such as the historical colonnades so that it almost resembles a temple. The James-Simon-Galerie offers visitors initial guidance about what is on offer before they go on to explore the individual buildings of the Bodenmuseum, Pergamonmuseum, Altes and Neues Museum, not to mention the Alte Nationalgalerie. And many will also enjoy sipping a coffee in the restaurant complete with terrace or browsing at length in the spacious museum shop. There is also a room for special exhibitions and an auditorium on the lower levels of the gallery.

Elegant precision

Zumtobel employs customized lighting solutions to present the open architecture to best advantage: Specifically, the cube-shaped entrance area at the end of the steps is illuminated with the high bay luminaire “Craft” that was fitted inconspicuously into the marble ceiling. It provides precise and broad light for a pleasant illumination of the entrance area. “Cieluma” was chosen when it came to highlighting the exhibits. Consisting of square textile light modules, it affords a gentle progression of light from the edge to the middle of the luminaire. Moreover, the acoustic fabric also helps to absorb sound and reduce ambient noise. In the special exhibition, the rectangles of the flat luminaire cover the entire ceiling - in combination with the pale gray surfaces of the walls and floors, their glare-free diffuse light gives the interior a clear and inviting appearance. Moreover, color and intensity can be regulated as desired to suit the event and situation.

In addition to the even and basic lighting of the illuminated ceilings, “Arcos” LED spotlights are used to accentuate details. Thanks to the dimmable white technology the color temperature can be individually set perfectly to underline the nature of the exhibits. Free of infrared and ultraviolet light the luminaires shine directly on the artworks. Installed in linear connection systems the compact spotlights also provide a highly flexible light for both the museum shops and auditorium. The minimalist luminaires cite the building’s intellectual creator: “As the creation of David Chipperfield 'Arcos' naturally makes a perfect fit for the James-Simon-Galerie,” argues Christian Aldrup, Project Manager at Zumtobel. In planning the lighting concept Zumtobel translated the sophisticated reduction to the essentials in architecture and luminaire design down to the last details: The technology of the luminaires, their regulation but also loudspeakers and sprinkler system were installed in the light- and media channels that run through the concrete ceilings and are discretely concealed from visitors to the gallery.