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Caixa Forum, Madrid

Natural and electric lighting design for the museum’s galleries and landscape.

The Caixa Forum is a new museum of art and sculpture located in the heart of Madrid's cultural district. It has been designed by internationally renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.

Central to the challenging project was the conversion of a disused power station into a prominent cultural hub. Arup’s lighting designers were responsible for the natural and electric lighting design for all galleries, public spaces and surrounding landscape.

Tailored lighting schemes

The ground floor plaza is a key feature of the building's design. Uplighters draw attention to the building's geometric, metallic soffit, creating the effect that the building is floating above its foundation.

Lighting the entrance stair, the most prominent entrance point for the gallery, was also a crucial part of the project.

Once inside, each public space has its own lighting design ranging from suspended nets of linear fluorescents to custom pendant luminaires in the restaurant. The waiting area for the auditorium features discreet, integrated downlighting. Arup studied the use of materials, their reflectivity and response to light with the architects, and used advanced computer rendering software, to finalise the lighting schemes. 

Minimising environmental impact

Daylight penetration into public spaces was analysed to inform the electric lighting designs and to minimise environmental impacts. The galleries use high-colour-rendering linear fluorescent luminaires to create a contemporary yet sustainable lighting design. Arup worked with the architects to model the scheme and determine the amount and extent of shadowing and distribution of light.

The Caixa Forum is an outstanding demonstration of the striking role lighting plays in supporting the architect's vision, while improving the functionality of the building's spaces and meeting the conservation requirements for gallery-housed art for public display.