New ideas on designing museums

News /
6 November 2012
New ideas on designing museums
During the 4th SCHOTT Architecture + Design event.

Museums focus on preservation and communication. The fourth Schott Architecture + Design event featured presentations from well-known speakers and museum experts who work for Schott, as well as a case study on modernization that included a tour of the Museum of Ancient Shipbuilding in Mainz. The event looked at how exhibition architecture has changed over the centuries, the options that exist for planning exhibits, and how the museums' efficiency and appeal can be enhanced by using glass and light.

Based on the example of the Museum Island [Museumsinsel] in Berlin, Florian Mausbach, the former President of the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning, explained the exciting history of the museum complex, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. The masterplan for the Museum Island, the product of an architectural competition held in 1993 that was modified numerous times, called for all of the buildings (the Neues, Pergamon, Altes, and Bode museums, and the Old National Gallery) to be modernized, joined together in structural terms, and given an additional modern entrance and visitor center similar to the one at the Louvre.

Interior designer Susanne Neumann, from Schmidhuber + Partner in Munich talked about “communication inside a room” and the trend towards “brand architecture.” Neumann demonstrated how architecture can embody the characteristics of brands, giving Audi’s futuristic exhibit booth and Audi Pavilion as examples, along with a planning concept for the Ningbo Urban Planning Museum in China. The brand experience and people’s emotional ties to brands take on completely new dimensions due to new technologies. Designers can now employ complex mold making that uses new materials, medialization of surfaces, textile interfaces, flexible and transparent gel structures, and even parametric drafts. Neumann presented a film on the German Pavilion project “Balance City” from Expo 2010 in Shanghai to give an example of a successful project. Schmidhuber + Partner was responsible for the architecture, and Schott acted as its expert partner by offering its know-how and supplying a wide variety of different glass products and lighting solutions.

Ulrich Huber, a museum expert who works for Schott, discussed how glass can help contribute to make museums more attractive and increase their efficiency. Restoration glass products were used in reference projects like the Deutsches Museum, The Museum of Natural History, and the Palace of Tears in Berlin to preserve the authenticity typical character of these historic buildings. Thanks to its low residual reflection, anti-reflective Amiran glass in a façade application guarantees transparent viewing. In fact, this product can even be used when the lighting conditions are far from perfect. When used in display cases or in front of pictures, Amiran and Mirogard give artworks virtually boundless presence. Ceilings can be illuminated to deliver perfect, shadowless light with Opalika white flashed opal glass and walls that magically change to form new islands of experience with smart glasses like Magira LightPoints or semi-transparent Mirona, for example. Presenting an object just perfectly calls for dramatic and energy-efficient lighting with light diodes and filigree fiber optics that require hardly any maintenance.

Energy efficiency is a must when creating a green museum. “Electricity can be produced by using intelligent and environmentally friendly architecture,” says Reinhold Huber, an expert on building-integrated photovoltaics and one of the speakers at the event. Schott Asi thin-film solar modules offer an ideal solution for museums when used as overhead glazing or as a façade solution (as in the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Ancient Shipbuilding in Mainz). The semi-transparent modules that are also available as insulating glass not only turn the roofs and façades of museums into solar power plants, but also allow for air-conditioning and shade that protects light-sensitive exhibits.

The case study “Future Meets Tradition – The Museum of Antique Shipbuilding,” developed by architect Ralph Schulte, documented the successful modernization of a historic building from an energy efficiency point of view, and shows how science and research can be presented more professionally with the help of anti-reflective glass and customized lighting solutions.

A museum tour rounded off this successful event by offering further details on modernizing museums, and of the many areas in which innovative solutions from Schott can be used in museums.

As Dr. Elmar Günther, the head of marketing at A+D, noted, “The feedback we’ve been getting from architects and museum planners on this event clearly shows that we are able to score points and significantly sharpen our profile as a partner for architects and designers through this type of networking.” More such events for architects on topics like museums and restoration are already being planned.

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