Museum Of World Cultures

Gothenburg, Sweden


Brisac Gonzalez

Hélène Binet
Museums and Exhibitions

Architecture + Environment

The Museum of World Culture was a highly significant cultural project for Sweden. Dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of global issues, it was designed as an arena for discussion and reflection, and as a welcoming public space where people could congregate and relax – the 'living room' of Gothenburg.

A combination of exhibition galleries, university research centre, library, auditorium, restaurant and public meeting spaces, the building nestles at the foot of a hill, next to Sweden’s most-visited tourist attraction, the Liseberg Amusement Park. Speirs + Major was responsible for both the external and internal illumination of the project.

Aside from illuminating the trees behind it to anchor the museum in its setting, there was no specific exterior lighting. Instead, the glazed building acts as a lantern, with the emphasis on the views into the building, welcoming people inside.

This sense of welcome was also a key part of the interior lighting which is designed to be human-scale and residential in feel, echoing the architectural purpose of creating an urban 'living room'. The architects designed a circulation route through the building that encourages exploration. The lighting design also responds to this variety. The striking central atrium, for instance, has steps that double as seats where people naturally congregate. These stairs have integrated fluorescent fittings that appear as glowing bands of light, creating both a visual dynamic and intimate illumination.

Carefully considered flexible lighting systems in the various gallery and exhibition spaces allow for the wide variety of exhibitions envisaged by the director and curators at the museum. The use of coloured light was viewed as part of the building's identity and is evident in spaces such as the library. Energy efficient fluorescent is again used here to create an entirely different effect. The suspended linear fitting has both up and downlight components, with the uplighting used to cast warming red light on to the ceiling.

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