Kunstmuseum Basel Outdoor, Design & Branding Light Frieze [presentation image] by Iart Ag Basel

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Light Frieze [presentation image]

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Industry Museums & Libraries
Media Outdoor, Billboard, Poster, Transportation & Vehicles, Design & Branding
Market Switzerland
Agency Iart Ag Basel
Released October 2016


Cannes Lions 2017
Design Brand Environment & Experience Design: Non-commercial Exhibitions & Experiences Gold Lion

Credits & Description

Title: Light Frieze
Agency: Iart, Christ & Gantenbein
Brand: Construction And Transport Department Of The Canton Of Basel-Stadt
Country: Switzerland
Entrant Company: Iart, Basel
Advertising Agency: Iart, Basel / Christ & Gantenbein, Basel
Production Company: Multivision Led-Systeme, Marchtrenk / Iart, Basel / Christ & Gantenbein, Basel / Ludovic Balland, Basel
Ceo: Valentin Spiess (Iart Ag)
Architect: Emanuel Christ (Christ & Gantenbein)
Architect: Christoph Gantenbein (Christ & Gantenbein)
System Engineer: Steffen Blunk (Iart Ag)
System Engineer: Oliver Heyerick (Iart Ag)
System Engineer: Gordon Jaentsch (Iart Ag)
Media Designer: Lucien Iseli (Iart Ag)
Architect: Julia Tobler (Christ & Gantenbein)
Architect: Michael Bertschmann (Christ & Gantenbein)
Architect: Stephanie Hirschvogel (Christ & Gantenbein)
Typographer: Ludovic Balland (Ludovic Balland Typography Cabinet)
The light frieze of the new building for the Kunstmuseum Basel produces its effect through the symbiosis of stone and light. The three-meter-high frieze encircles the building at a height of twelve meters. Its narrow joints are cast in shadow by the incident daylight, yet can be precisely lit by white LEDs. Reflection on the light-colored bricks of the frieze creates an indirect light that can be used to display both text and graphics. The frieze spans across seven facade segments and has a total length of 115 meters. It comprises 40 horizontal joints with 1306 pixels each, which is thus equivalent to a total resolution of 1306 x 40 pixels. Sensors on the roof of the building determine the amount of light that falls on each of the individual segments of the facade in order to adjust the luminance of the LEDs accordingly.
We were commissioned to develop the facade signage of the new building for the Kunstmuseum Basel. The polygonal building is located in the city center of Basel, Switzerland, at the intersection of five streets. Our objective was to find a media solution that is both architectural and fulfills the museum’s need for communication.
The light frieze contributes to the identity of the museum within its urban surroundings, making visible its rhythms, exhibitions and events on the facade of the building. Thus, the target audience includes visitors to the museum as well as a wider public. The frieze was already part of the design with which the architects won the competition for the extension to the Kunstmuseum Basel in 2010. The concept was then cooperatively developed, tested a number of times and, in the process, flexibly adapted to new knowledge. Only in this way could the facade and its elements be created as one of several complementary layers of the building.
The light frieze shows that the desire for mediatization and the timelessness of architecture do not have to be in contradiction to each other. The subtle way the frieze is enlivened by light allows the facade to change its character, seeming sometimes more and sometimes less transparent, and suggests diverse interactions between the building's interior and the surrounding urban space. During the day, the brightness of the illuminated joints corresponds to that of the ambient light outside. For the viewer, a powerfully poetic play of light and shadow emerges, which is fleeting and yet seems to be as solid as the masonry itself. As daylight fades, the frieze adapts to the new environmental conditions, becoming more radiant. It creates the illusion that the masonry is porous, as if it would enable someone outside to view into the building.
Campaign Description:
Designed to be an integral part of the architecture, the light frieze subtly enlivens the museum’s brick facade with words and graphic elements. Our idea was to take the stylistic element of a frieze, which has been used since antiquity to decorate and give order to buildings, and bring it into the digital age by translating it technologically and aesthetically. While the light frieze is fitted with LEDs, it does not give the impression of an LED display, but rather of a new medium. It is a medial membrane of the architecture, which can be used as a visual information flow from inside to outside.