2017 IALD Award Winners:
Award of Merit
Kunstmuseum Basel by iart ag

Luminaries of the lighting profession gathered at the Crystal Tea Room on 10 May to honor the winners of the 34th Annual International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) International Lighting Design Awards. Twenty-two projects from eight countries were on display – including interiors, monuments, façades, museums, and a residence. This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and inspiring work found anywhere in the world of architectural lighting design.

The light frieze of the Kunstmuseum Basel, with lighting design by iart ag, took home an Award of Merit.

The light frieze of the new building of the Kunstmuseum Basel produces its effect through symbiosis of stone and light. Designers call the solution a “shadow display” – viewers perceive the light only indirectly from an invisible source.

Designed as an integral part of the architecture, this installation subtly enlivens the building’s brick facade with words and graphic elements, playing with transparency and perceptions of solidity for a wide variety of effects. The horizontal joints of the frieze are cast in shadow by the incident daylight.

The frieze’s design uses this for artistic effect: white LEDs are set into the joints so they are invisible from the street, yet precisely illuminate the specially formed grooves of the joints. The shadows from these fixtures are used to display text and graphics, essentially painting with shadows using the stone building as a canvas.

The frieze spans seven façade segments at a height of 12 meters, and has a total length of 115 meters. Sensors determine the amount of light that falls on each of the individual segments of the facade in order to control the brightness of the LEDs. During the day, brightness is tuned to correspond to the ambient light outside. As daylight fades, the frieze adapts to the new setting, becoming more radiant without overpowering the surrounding city lighting.

The lighting design team collaborated with a typographer to create a font perfectly suited to the aesthetic requirements of the display – as well as the technical capabilities of the lighting installation. The result is a vivid communications tool for the museum, easily legible at a distance but restrained enough to not distract from the city’s ambiance.

“For the first time we are seeing the blurring of 21st century media treatment masterfully integrated within architecture,” one judge wrote. “Is it architectural lighting design? Is it a harbinger of things to come? It is undeniably brilliant in conception and execution.”



Valentin Spiess
Steffen Blunk
Gordon Jäntsch, Student IALD
Oliver Heyerick
Lucien Iseli
iart ag


Emanuel Christ
Christoph Gantenbein
Julia Tobler
Michael Bertschmann
Stephanie Hirschvogel
Christ & Gantenbein

Construction and Transport Department of the Canton of Basel-Stadt,
Städtebau & Architektur, Hochbauamt

Department of Presidential Affairs of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, Kunstmuseum Basel

Ludovic Balland

ZPF Ingenieure AG

© Kunstmuseum Basel, Julian Salinas
© iart
© Derek Li Wan Po

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