NARC – a 500sqm exhibition, redesigned by Atelier Brückner, conveys the different historical layers of Lisbon from the Iberian-Punic, Roman to Pomarine periods in an excavation site underneath the city, below a foundation of a building.
The introduction space offers an overview of the eras that shaped Lisbon, combined with a chronological selection of objects exhibited in two impressive wall showcases set into the historic vault structures. The guide’s presentation gets supported by a subtle dynamic scenery of light and media that visually leads the visitors through the content orchestrated in several steps. All objects are separately accented with miniature DMX spotlights integrated in the showcases. The final scene opens the view into the archaeological space below a glass floor, inviting the visitor to explore. The exhibits are complemented by animated back lit illustrations that stand out against the dark walls in blue and white.
On the lower level, metal grid bridges lead the visitor through the space passing the excavated layers of time and the foundation of the building above.
The exhibition space mostly works without daylight. To balance the impacts of the reduced daylight to make the archaeological space visible, the whole site has been discreetly filled with cool light, lengthening the impression of daylight flooding the basement exhibition space. This achieves a basic brightness to be able to read the space and to walk safely throughout the space. The cool 5000°K lighting is integrated by linear wall washers behind black glass panels along the outer walls and as diffuse light lines below the bridges. Throughout the space these fixtures are not visible for the visitor to achieve the effect of a cool dim mysterious atmosphere. The integrated lights get complemented with cool ceiling flood lights that fill the underground topography.
The challenge in lighting this archaeological space is to find a way to show the relevant objects and let them stand out from the rest of the stones and sand surrounding them. The cool overall lighting creates the neutral canvas, an abstract non-colourful space. It does not perfectly reflect the warm sand and stone colours.
Highly contrasting warm 3000°K ceiling spotlights highlight the various archaeological situations and layers.
The artefacts of the different times neighbouring and overlapping in the cave of NARC are carefully sorted by focusing on the relevant parts with contrasting light colours and directions.
As in the introduction space the museum guide leads through the space step by step accompanied by illustrating media and lighting scenography.
Dimmed via DMX the lighting integrated behind the black glass panels interacts with the media and graphic content that appears on demand.
With this approach the atmosphere is very lively and concentrated, visually calm with high a readability of the space.
As the undergrounds of central Lisbon are very humid all lights in the archaeological space had to have high IP ratings. General light tracks and spotlights could not be used.
All lights are exterior luminaires. Well planned mounting systems, cabling strategies and de-glare systems insured a very flexible lighting system that made it possible to theatrically stage this space without the classical tools of exhibitions or stages.

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