It stands resplendent on Vienna’s Karlsplatz square. Flanked by traffic on all sides, it still somehow manages to radiate a feeling of incredible serenity. Designed by architect Joseph Maria Olbrich and opened in 1898 as a gallery for the Union of Austrian Artists, the Wiener Secession is more than just a building. It is an architectural manifesto for Jugendstil – Art Nouveau – and now, after a year of refurbishment under the direction of noted Viennese architect Adolf Krischanitz, the Wiener Secession is shining with new splendour.
The creative freedom associated with this place has become even greater, thanks to artificial light that replicates the quality of daylight – or to be more precise, thanks to tunableWhite LED lighting solutions developed and realised by Zumtobel with Krischanitz’s studio.
The traffic noise stops almost as soon as the front door closes. Visitors first find themselves in an entrance hall defined by two lateral arch-shaped wall niches, where tranquillity and glistening daylight characterise the space. Olbrich integrated daylight in a subtle way by adding two long wall openings over the arches, from which light pours out into the high room. Indeed, presenting artworks under daylight conditions was one of Olbrich’s core design ideas.
As part of a previous set of renovations, fluorescent lamps were mounted on the steel roof construction above the glass ceiling to give the impression of daylight in the evening and during winter. This solution had its limitations, delivering inefficient and unnaturally cold light from a series of clearly visible illuminated points on the opaque glass ceiling.
Zumtobel worked closely with the architects to develop a special lighting solution that uses TECTON slim tunableWhite LED luminaires to guarantee a pleasant, even illumination that can be continuously adjusted between 3000 and 6000 K to mimics natural daylight. “Artificial light with daylight quality is actually better than daylight in exhibition spaces, because it enables us to create constant and calculable lighting situations – at any time,” explained Herwig Kempinger, President of the Vienna Secession.
While TECTON luminaires show works of art in just the right light, the changeable light colours can also provide atmospheric lighting for special events.
The lighting technology from the exhibition rooms has also been specified for the basement, the only difference being that the luminaires in the lower floor are mostly visible.
A series of flat, closely aligned vaulted ceilings help give the gallery its distinctive appearance. LINARIA tunableWhite LED light lines are mounted in tracks on the crest of the vaults, whose gentle curves also serve as reflectors. ARCOS tunableWhite LED spotlights can be clicked into the tracks for even more flexibility.
A highlight of the gallery is the Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt. The painting, 34 metres long and 2m high, is the only artwork in an impressive high-ceilinged room. While TECTON luminaires similar to those in the main exhibition room emit light for the illuminated ceiling, SUPERSYSTEM II LED spotlights
All the tunableWhite installations in the basement were added as part of the second construction phase, using luminaires that make the most of advanced technology to ensure completely flicker-free light in a colour temperature range of 2700 to 6500 K.
Before leaving the Vienna Secession, most visitors will make a short detour to the gift shop in a room just off the entrance hall – and illuminated by four ALVA LED pendant luminaires. Developed by Hermann Czech and Adolf Krischanitz in collaboration with Zumtobel as part of the editions special collection from the Austrian lighting specialist, these restrained fittings harmonise with the historic architecture. The luminous glass spheres deliver pleasant indirect illumination for gentle background lighting, while integrated LED downlights project vertical accents from above.
“Previous spherical luminaires produced light that was too diffuse and generally insufficient,” said Krischanitz. “With the ALVA fitting, all three lighting effects can now be controlled independently of each other.” Here, as everywhere else in the building, visitors experience the subtle functionality and agreeable atmosphere of lighting solutions that also offer artists and curators the greatest possible creative freedom – in fact, more freedom than ever before in this very special building.