Magna Science Centre

Rotherham, United Kingdom


Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Exhibition Designer
Event Communications

Exhibition Lighting Designer
DHA Design

Edmund Sumner


Best Lighting Installation, FX International Design Awards, 2001

Lighting Project of the Year, The Building Services Awards, 2002

Special Citation for ‘Enhancement of the Emotional Experience of the Space’, IES Awards, 2002

Best Retail and Leisure, The Lighting Design Awards, 2002

Award of Merit, IALD Awards, 2002
Museums and Exhibitions

Architecture + Environment

Set in the dramatic interior of a disused steelworks, Magna is a series of interactive exhibition pavilions themed around the elements needed for making steel: air, water, earth and fire.

Our design for the lighting - and indeed the darkness - plays a crucial role in supporting the exhibition, recreating a sense of the drama and danger of the original plant.

In 2001 Magna won the prestigious Stirling Prize for Architecture. The judges commented:

"Wilkinson Eyres great achievement, supported by inspired lighting design, has been to allow the existing building to speak for itself and to tell its own history."

The primary background lighting is a low level monochromatic red, suggestive of both rust and hot molten steel smouldering in the dark interior, against which the individual pavilions shine

The Water Pavilion is located at ground level, marked by a blue halo against a cyan wash. Ripples gently animate all the internal walls, created by light focused through suspended water tanks and combined with reflections from fan-blown foil strips. Inside the Fire Pavilion, the walls flicker with orange light.

The Air Pavilion, which appears to be suspended in space, is lit in sky colours. Slow moving cloud projections speed up as a "storm" approaches. Below, the half-buried Earth Pavilion glows white, while inside the visitor walks through striated shadows and strobing hazard lights.

Externally, light is limited to highlighting a few industrial artefacts. The building itself is deliberately left dark and brooding, picked out only by a network of red beacons that announce its presence from a distance.

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