Museum architecture: let’s find out some construction criteria, reference standards, examples with DWG projects and 3D models to get inspired

Museum architecture is of significant social value in terms of city’s improved image, and for the optimization of people’s living environment. Consequently, we believed a museum design and this kind of architecture could be a significant aspect to analyze within our Architecture Focus from various perspectives so as to explore its spatial constitution and functional organization.

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In this article, images, renderings and project drawings (floor plans, elevation and section views) in DWG format will be available. Thanks to BIM Voyager, we will also have the opportunity to navigate within the project 3D model.

We’ll be reproducing a very interesting example of museum/exhibition area design, such as the VitraHaus, designed by renowned architect studio Herzog & de Meuron in Germany by the end of the past decade.

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Download the project 3D BIM model (.edf file)

Click here to download Edificius, the architectural BIM design software

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Definition

“A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”

(International Council of Museum)

Designing a museum

A museum is a kind of architecture which has experienced substantial modifications. It has always been the place where society exhibited objects of special value and it has transformed  over the years, becoming an urban sculpture and a new public square of the city.

The traditional museum is considered like a sort of old and dusty container by the majority of people. A desire for change and to make the museum a space more accessible to people, started  in the late nineties. One of the first attempts was made in Paris, with the radical redesign of the Georges Pompidou Center (by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers). Another example, still in Paris, is represented by the Louvre Museum in which the old and the new blended in a spectacular interconnection of spaces.

Consequently, the classic and rigid style of the nineteenth century museum was overcome and replaced by a whole new modern conception. New museums (from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to the Tate Modern in London, from the Kanazawa Museum to the Quai Branly in Paris, from the MAXXI to the MACRO in Rome) are characterised by their uniqueness and the new urban role they have acquired.

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Download the project axonometric view in DWG file format

The characteristic element of the museum architecture, in particular the contemporary one, is the absence of preconceived design schemes.

In today’s society the approach of a large part of the public comes from television culture. It is an audience that does not attend much galleries, libraries and museums, that suffers from attention deficit and hyperactivity, and that seeks rather to interact with a  play  than to approach art as a form of relaxation so to escape from a rhetorical mentality. This is an audience unfit for old schemes.

For this reason, exhibitions need to become a mass-medium, a means of communication and information.

Here is a classification of museums:

  • Open-air museums (museum that exhibits collections of buildings and artifacts out-of-doors)
  • Street art
  • Virtuality and New Technologies (smartphone, tablet, PC)
  • 3D/4K museums
  • Multimedia exhibitions

How to design a museum

Nowadays, designing a museum has become the new challenge for architects.

A museum is no longer the place where works of art are exhibited, but it is the fusion of several functions and services.

Knowing how to properly design a museum is not simple at all. If organized in the best way, it helps to enhance the work of art displayed. We will be showing here what are the best ways to design a museum and how to better do it in detail.

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Download the project cross-sections

How to design a museum: types of structures

The various attempts to schematise the structure underline the fundamental criterion of elasticity and circularity. The possible types of passage for visitors are:

  • free
  • mandatory
  • differentiated

The museum allows vertical, horizontal or progressive expansion. Thus, there are two types of museum:

  • Static museum (slow growth, constant ordering and clear separation between rooms and warehouses)
  • Dynamic museum (rapid growth and changing order, mixed sales and warehouses)

Among the essential prerequisites of a dynamic museum there is the flexibility or freedom of the plan, with the creation of a few connection and sorting nodes.

Designing a museum: constitutive elements

The first thing to do, when designing a museum, is to define its  constitutive elements.

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Download the floor plans in DWG CAD file format

  • Accessibility – a main entrance for visitors is needed with coatroom, toilet and a library/catalogues space that allows to control the visitors’ flow. An employee entrance and an entrance for disabled visitors are needed too
  • Circulation – Ithe next room must be a sorting filter room, so that visitors can gradually spread out.  Other rooms must be considered: group and guided tours meeting point, early childhood entertainment rooms, restrooms and emergency rooms.

Other essential elements are: conference room, library, temporary and permanent exhibition rooms, offices, management offices and also restrooms, storages, material storage and maintenance technical services, installations.

  • Exhibition rooms  – We could list three types:
    • Free planimetric rooms, only enclosed by mobile barriers
    • Single rooms, accessible by external transit corridors
    • Rooms with free or fixed paths.
  • Showcases – They can be fixed, mobile, modular,  isolated, wall mounted or built-in. Generally, they need  to be placed 90-100 cm from the floor, their height should  be 100cm, 75cm depth  and 150cm maximum width.
  • Visitors circulation – The definition of visitor’s circulation criteria is essential.
    It can be mandatory, free, differentiated and static. In addition, the visitors’ flow pattern can be determined by the choice of exhibit structure with artworksfixed sorting  or the possibility of a slow growth of their number. The path needs to highlight the entrance and the exit and direct the visitors’ look to the artwork.

    • linear path – beginning- middle – end
    • loop – beginning – middle – beginning
    • satellite – central core
    • labyrinth – rooms’ variations.

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Download the project area plans

  • Lighting – it is also important to pay attention to the furniture and room’s lighting. The ideal light is from above and diffused.
    In fact, poorly lit or badly conceived rooms cannot provide the right value to the exhibited works. It is possible to use fixed or mobile showcases that can be built into the wall or exhibited in different parts of the room. Showcases’ height needs to let the visitor gaze at the exhibited objects without problem.With regard to  an object lighting, its intensity must be directly proportional to the intensity of the light source. Thelightening intensity of the object changes according to the angle assumed by the light source. It must be directed to the wall and, not to the floor, with an angle of incidence between 45 and 70 degrees. Lighting can be: from above, with stained-glass ceiling, lanterns, timber frame and skylight or traditional, with natural lateral lighting
  • Area – an area minimum  unit in function of the people does not exist.
    G.F.A.: exhibition area + complementary area (complementary area= offices+ storage+ labs+ coatrooms+ coffee bar)
    Therefore, it is possible to list the following cases:

    • Small size museum: complementary area= 25% GFA, GFA= 300/500 square meters.
    • Medium size museum: complementary area= 40% GFA, GFA= 500/1000 square meters
    • Big size museum. Complementary area= 70% GFA, GFA= 1000/2000 square meters

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Download the project elevation views in DWG file format

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Download the project 3D BIM model (.edf file)

 

Click here to download Edificius, the architectural BIM design software

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