A coin does not have a front and a back, it has two sides. This was one of the early principles behind the exhibition when DNB decided to move Norway’s most complete coin collection from a locked vault in Drammen to the head office in Bjørvika.

The conference centre in Bjørvika already houses a well-preserved Renaissance boat dating back to the 16th century that was uncovered during the excavation of the site when the conference centre and offices were built.

To create a comprehensively designed exhibition space, the forms of the display cases and exhibition surfaces were created with a design language that connected to the crystalline glass display case that houses the boat.

The lighting concept was designed with the following success criteria:

• Ensure the coins can be viewed from both sides
• Draw attention to the coins despite their small scale within a large room
• Give unobscured visibility to the coins
• Highlight the incredible intricacy of each and every coin

It was also important that the room itself was not be perceived as a basement by those who entered during the day.

Design Delivery

A close collaboration between Light Bureau, Zinc and DNB ensured that the objects, the exhibition architecture and the lighting were designed with one unified approach.

The lighting fixtures are fully integrated in showcases, drawers, niches and ceiling details in an effort to make them totally concealed. This, along with the display technique allows the coins to be viewed as if they are floating freely within the cabinets.

Lighting of the room’s vertical surfaces helps to maintain the functionality of the room as a meeting and conference centre during the day and prevents it feeling like a basement with little natural light.

During daily use, the lighting of the exhibition area is linked to the building’s BMS and different scenarios are activated in-step with the other lighting in the building. This, combined with the use of existing luminaires as part of the new concept and only using lighting where necessary led to a sustainable and environmentally friendly lighting solution.

In the evening, the pixel-based backlighting of the ceiling is activated. Parametrically generated scenarios create a new dynamic experience every night that produces a shimmer of light across the space. This aims to evoke the feeling of walking into a vault filled with treasures glistening in the light.

Zinc, Light Bureau, Plexon and Flexiform prepared full-scale prototypes of the stands to test the layered structure of the plexiglass, the thickness of materials, and various glass materials to minimize unwanted reflections. Through the tests, challenges were revealed around achieving dust-free showcases, building up static electricity between the plexiglass panels and mounting the coins. Through collaboration and an iterative process the technical solutions were found to resolve any issues and progress the project.

The final result was a design that appears uncomplicated, yet beautifully finessed. It allows the coins to take centre stage within the space and encourages visitors to take a closer look at these historic treasures.

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