The latest addition to the FHNW Campus Muttenz in Switzerland is certainly impressive: a cube-shaped building with an edge length of almost 65 metres that rises up to catch the eye from far and wide. Designed by pool Architekten, this is a simple and yet simultaneously monumental construction. And one that is purely devoted to education and research. Zumtobel joined forces with lighting designers from Reflexion to engineer a new luminaire for this extraordinary building: the FREELINE.
It is a real powerhouse. A striking new building created by the Swiss pool Architekten studio for the University of Applied Sciences Muttenz in Switzerland. Flanked by a tree-lined park and with an extensive forecourt, the 65-metre-tall cube looms over the neighbouring railway tracks. The copper-coloured façade shines invitingly in the sun. And inside, two spectacular atriums offer stunning views up to the sky – all framed by a potent yet uncomplicated style of architecture. There is hustle and bustle everywhere, but that is no real surprise. Zumtobel has developed the FREELINE luminaire with the Swiss lighting design agency Reflexion und pool Architekten for this bastion of knowledge and understanding – a solution that has now become part of our special collection known as the editions.
"The architecture of the new building is extremely rigorous and has a strong graphic quality," reported Thomas Mika, Managing Director of Reflexion and the person responsible for the lighting concept of the university building. "So we opted to integrate all the luminaires as far as possible into the existing elements." This move emphasises the simplicity of the monumental construction, in which a visible concrete support structure and, in stark contrast, the use of warming wood combine to set the overall tone of the project. Ramp-like staircases with a width of almost three metres form an architectural focal point. They traverse the atrium and stretch up to the two auditorium levels on the first and second floors. Almost like sculptures.
“For a project of this size, the lighting concept needs a main layer that connects the different rooms across the entire building and weaves itself into the architecture,” explained Mika. The ribbed concrete ceilings define the office, seminar and laboratory rooms, along with the corridors of the new university building, from the third to the twelfth floor. Reflexion opted to insert a linear luminaire between each of the ribs, enabling the spaces to be characterised by uniformity in terms of both light density and lighting design. Rather than just a simple two-dimensional band of light, the planners wanted to use contoured three-dimensional illumination to accentuate the architecture and, at the same time, light up the workspaces.
FREELINE really impresses with its simple elegance. The shape of the luminaire is determined by nothing more than a slim aluminium U-profile and a PMMA diffuser, with the control gear stored remotely to enable a truly miniaturised design. “A three-dimensional light-emitting surface is needed to create light with a real physical presence," pointed out Mika. "However, lateral light-emitting surfaces are especially problematic in office applications, as people want to work in a glare-free environment." The FREELINE features a primary and secondary optic to solve this tricky issue. The primary optic consists of a high-performance lens, which pools the light from the LED band, and a diffuser, which precisely directs the light to the emission surface at the bottom of the aluminium profile. The secondary micro-prismatic optic (MPO) guarantees the kind of accurate light control required in office applications. Thomas Mika from Reflexion was very positive about the whole design process: "The cooperation with Zumtobel was both a creative and a technical triumph. And that is what really sets Zumtobel apart: the ideas and plans of the client are implemented accurately and with great sensitivity."
The FREELINE definitely lives up to its name at the University of Applied Sciences, where more than 13 kilometres of the solution stretch through the new building.