Lighting The Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art

Lighting plays a crucial role in the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.

A lighting simulation of the atrium space in the Zeitz MOCAA where the different layers of light and lighting effects are combined

Lighting, both natural and artificial, plays a vital role in defining the visitor experience at a museum. For the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), at the Silo district at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, this was a primary consideration for consulting engineers Arup.

Following a 24-hour lighting analysis for the project, Arup developed a holistic lighting solution for the atrium space that carefully balanced and combined daylight and electric lighting. Daylight studies explored how sunlight could animate the space through the seasons, as well as creating a dynamic and visually engaging environment for museum visitors. These studies informed the geometry and material selection of the key atrium glazed apertures.

The attached image shows a lighting simulation of the atrium space where the different layers of light and lighting effects are combined. The Arup team worked to identify, along with the architects at Heatherwick Studio, the points of interest in the atrium, generating a striking night experience for visitors in this area.

The idea was to highlight the carved cylinders or ‘cans’ in order to maximise the impact of the architectural approach. Therefore, special emphasis was put in spaces such as the lift cans, the spiral staircase or the gallery walls – void volumes that become glowing features in the atrium – amongst others.

The design and simulation process helped the Arup team to understand the feel of the space at night, compared to daytime, and allowed them to tweak the design to achieve the best and more remarkable output.

The electric lighting approach aimed to work with and not against the day lighting condition within the atrium, and has the ability to provide a subtle transition to the electric lighting only once the sun sets.

Seen as the fourth dimension of architecture at Arup, lighting is an integral part of intelligent building design, as well as a unique speciality field. Over the years, Arup has consistently won prestigious awards for its innovative lighting philosophies, most notably from The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America; Lighting Industry Federation’s Lux Award (regularly from 2008 through to 2015) and winning the 2015 Darc Awards for Best Interior Scheme for the Fulton Center, New York, NY, USA project.

A world-class museum within a working harbour, the Zeitz MOCAA project is a focal point in the ambitious vision of the V&A Waterfront; turning the old silo structures into mixed-use developments, whilst focusing on quality and sustainability. Arup has been the sustainability consultant on the silo projects.

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