Awards: Lighting Design Awards 2011: Winner, Public Building category; Civic Trust Awards 2011: Winner; shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2010; RIBA Award Winner 2010; Building Magazine Project of the Year 2010
The Ashmolean Museum re-opened its doors in November 2009, following several years’ closure. Rick Mather Architects’ extension replaces a Victorian building to the rear of the original Cockerell museum. The new six-storey extension houses 39 new galleries, offices, education rooms and a restaurant, providing the museum with double the original display space on the same site. Two full height atria allow daylight to penetrate deep into the building.
KSLD were involved from an early stage, allowing the lighting design to be integrated with the architecture. The gallery lighting is based on a flexible system of track and spotlights. Floating ceilings conceal an edge detail with inverted track, allowing the perimeter lighting to be as discrete as possible. The track layout in each gallery is tailored to the exhibition build layout.
The spotlights are a bespoke family of fittings manufactured for the project by Mike Stoane Lighting. The KSLD specification required a high level of aesthetic integration and technical performance. The fittings come in two sizes, housing MR16 dichroic lamps for the single height galleries and AR111 lamps for the double height spaces. The spotlights are self-dimming and able to carry up to 3 accessories to allow the beam to be tailored to suit the aesthetic and conservation needs of the artworks.
The architectural lighting for the atria and circulation routes uses cool-white lamps, contrasting with the warm-white gallery lighting. This provides variety, prevents visual fatigue, and aids circulation and way-finding. The cooler atrium lighting blends well with the daylight and helps provide a gradient of colour temperatures between spaces.
The control system uses timeclock control for the galleries, ensuring full switch-off at night, important for both energy and conservation reasons. Daylight linking controls the integrated cold cathode balustrade detail at the main atria stairs.
KSLD were involved at all project stages, from initial reporting through to detailed design and site commissioning. The final phase involved KSLD staff fitting and focusing each individual spotlight by hand to ensure the desired lit effect and conservation light levels were achieved in the galleries.