Project | Scottish Galleries at The National

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23/05/2024 - Working within deep plan spaces under The Mound, our design balances with natural light to create a welcome experience with improved intuitive navigation and lighting, supporting a deeper connection to the collection and gallery.

Lead by Hoskins Architects, the competition-winning design to upgrade the home of Scottish art has seen new visitor circulation routes opened to connect the original (1859) National building with new galleries, retail and hospitality in the reworked spaces below it.

Arriving at the new entrance concourse, a large expanse of backlit stretch ceiling over the grand stair promotes a light and airy first impression, easing the transition from outside to inside, and providing a clear visual cue to the galleries ahead.

Improving the experience of routes and connections was key to boosting traffic flow. The North stair between the new galleries and the National was dark and unwelcoming, so we echoed the concourse backlit ceiling detail, bathing it in soft, warm light.

For the South stair, we were able to unblock the windows to restore daylight, and for both stairs we integrated light within the handrails to improve safety.

Our daylight studies helped to inform the best locations for hanging art to avoid conservation issues, as well as the design of the windows and shading so that natural light could be maximised where possible.

We added flexible track and spot lighting for both the permanent and temporary collections. Unusually for a civic art gallery, in the Scottish Galleries, the paintings are hung lower on the walls, and visitors are allowed to get relatively close to study the works. We took care to optimise this experience, positioning the track lighting to reduce the possibility for reflections, while lighting the art to reveal the detail, print quality, and brushstrokes. The effect draws people in, supporting a personal, connected, experience.