Design Principles For Museum Daylight Systems
Based On Nine Built Examples From Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Presented on October 13, 2022 at Facade Tectonics 2022 World Congress
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This research unlocks the relationship between space, structure and light in nine unique museums developed by architect Renzo Piano. Renzo Piano uses innovative and subtle solutions for modulating natural light through a highly complex set of construction layers in the roof and ceiling. Using a comparative and standardized approach, this research analyzes the daylighting systems of these museums using the daylight simulation engine Radiance and various computer applications and plugins including Rhinoceros 3D, DIVA, and Grasshopper. The results of the analysis retrace the development of daylight systems at the RPBW museums and describe the evolution from static to dynamic to adaptive daylight systems.
For the comparative analysis of the daylight conditions, the daylight systems were systematized and categorized. In a first analysis step, the museums were examined in their site-specific location and the interior design were examined using computational daylight simulation tools (Rhino, DIVA Grasshopper). In a second analysis step, the light-guiding systems were digitally analyzed by means of a standardized reference space (box) with the same parameters (room dimension, geographical position, orientation, hours of sunshine). Finally, by conducting a field analysis, the standardized computer model was benchmark and calibrated based on empirical daylight measurements from two museum projects (Menil Collection, Houston) to ensure (verify) the accuracy of the comparative analysis.
The aim of this research is to serve as a guide on the applicability of system solutions of daylight control in museums - in terms of the illuminance of daylight, the room aesthetics (light contrast), object perception, and geographic location. The results of the comparative analysis using a standardized reference space (Box) allow a precise quantitative comparison of daylight systems. The final evaluation of the system solutions provides a new planning resource for architects and planners who design daylight systems and daylighting.
The quality of light and the intensity (lighting conditions) in museums are the most important factors influencing the effect of the exhibition. In addition, good general lighting of the exhibition rooms is important for the spatial orientation of the visitors within the museum building and the spatial atmosphere. Particular attention must be paid to the materiality and type of the exhibitions in daylight and artificial lighting planning in exhibition rooms. Different art objects, such as paintings, sculptures or video installations, require different lighting conditions.
Examples of annual maximum number of lux/hours of exposure 1 are:
50,000 lux/hours for highly sensitive materials (50-lux)
480,000 lux/hours for moderately sensitive materials (200-lux)
The ability to perceive the exhibition by simultaneous light protection of the artwork represent a conflict of objectives in the exhibition planning. A strong exposure to light can cause aging, discoloration and other damage to the exhibition objects. As a rule, limits are therefore set for the maximum illuminance2 and maximum exposure time (duration of exhibition) for photosensitive exhibits.
Through new light simulation programs, the planner has been able to make accurate statements on light intensity, accumulated light quantity, light contrast and possible glare phenomena in an early design phase. A light simulation was only possible in the past through models and mock-ups. Faulty lighting design repeatedly led to limitations in the exhibition concept or to subsequent redesigns and conversions to meet conservation and visitor requirements.
The uniform illumination of daylight is one of the main criteria in the architectural planning of museum buildings for Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW. The aim of the research is to systematize, comparatively analyze and evaluate the design principles of daylight systems and daylighting in RPBW museum projects. For this purpose, 9 selected museums developed by RPBW between 1986 and 2008 were analyzed and the connection between the spatial concept, the design principle of the light control system and the daylight quality (qualitative and quantitative computer analysis) documented.
In a first analysis step, the museums were examined in their site-specific location and the interior design were examined by daylight simulation technology using computer analysis (Rhino 5 DIVA Grasshopper script). In a second analysis step, the light-guiding systems were digitally analyzed by means of a standardized reference space (box) with the same parameters (room dimension, geographical position, orientation, hours of sunshine). Finally, by conducting a field analysis, the computer model was benchmarked and calibrated.
The categorization and analytical evaluation of the applied light control systems provides exhibition and museum planners and architects with planning assistance in the early design phase. Graphical analysis and daylight simulation will provide a new approach to the Renzo Piano Building Workshop architectural work. The abstracted form of comparative computer analysis by means of a standardized reference space (box analysis) clearly illustrates the correlation between the light-guiding system, the construction and the perception. The simulation of natural lighting provides more planning security and enables more coherent and more economical lighting concepts. In addition, the possible uses of different daylight system solutions in different geographic locations are presented. The aim is to achieve planning reliability in the field of daylight control at an early stage of the design process.
1.0 Approach and Methodology
1.1 Research Matrix
The research matrix shows the two research methods used in the comparative analysis: [Fig. 1]Typological order of daylighting systems Computational analysis of systems
1.2. Daylighting systems
2.0 RPBW Musem Project Built Between 1982 and 2008
2.1. Computer analysis of individual museum projects
The daylight analysis of all RPBW museums follows a standard format and includes a suite of technical images [Fig.7], graphs, and an explanation
3.0 Daylight Simulation and Daylight Analysis Using a Standardized Reference Room (Box)
3.1 Comparative Computer Analysis at the Locations
Toronto, Washington, and Houston
In a second analytical step, the daylighting systems were comparatively analyzed by means of a standardized reference space (box) with
The comparative analysis of the 8 museum projects from RPBW showed the complex relationship between the shading concept and daylight control system, skylight geometry, exhibit concept, the light sensitivity of
Scottish Museum Council Facts Sheet, Museums Australia Victoria, 2003↩︎
The illuminance Lux (abbreviation: lx) is defined as the ratio of the luminous flux falling on a surface to the size of this surface. The amount of light is the product of time and emitted luminous flux is commonly referred to as lux.↩︎
Renzo Piano Building Workshop for unparalleled support of the research
Thomas Jefferson University for supporting the research.
Rights and Permissions
Daylight in Buildings (abbreviated)
Boubekri, Mohamed, Daylighting Design: Planning Strategies and Best Practice Solutions. Birkhäuser, Basel 2014.
Brandi, Ulrike, Light Design. Edition Detail, Munich 2006.
Druzik, James, “Illuminating Alternatives: Research in Museum Lighting.” Getty Institute Newsletter, 2004, 19(1).
Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Museum and Art Gallery Lighting: A Recommended Practice, ANSI/IESNA RP-30-96, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, New York 1996.
Köster, Helmut, Tageslichtdynamische Architektur: Grundlagen, Systeme, Projekte. Birkhäuser, Berlin 2004.
Lull, William P., and Paul N. Banks, Conservation Environment Guidelines for Libraries and Archives.
Canadian Council of Archives, Ottawa 1995.