A rainbow over Aarhus
Can you really walk through a rainbow? Yes, now you can: in Aarhus, Denmark, on top of the roof of the Danish Art Museum ARoS, to be precise, where renowned artist Olafur Eliasson has implemented a spectacular installation: a 150-metre circular walkway titled “Your rainbow panorama”. Visitors to the rainbow ring located at a height of 50 metres can enjoy a breath-taking 360° view of the harbour town. The daylight filtering through the curved glass walls in all colours of the spectrum, each of them specifically made for this purpose, creates the impression of being inside a rainbow. For the installation to be visible also at night, Eliasson relied on Zumtobel, his long-term partner in lighting: from dusk till dawn, a specially developed lighting solution incorporating 116 recessed uplights installed along the inner periphery of the ring transforms the white ceiling into a source of light, so that the panoramic walkway appears like a rainbow hovering above the museum.
This is how Olafur Eliasson describes his design concept: “Your rainbow panorama enters into a dialogue with the existing architecture and reinforces what is assured beforehand, that is to say the view of the city. I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside – where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into a part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving.”
“Your rainbow panorama” is the last puzzle piece of the ARoS Art Museum, which had been completed in 2004. The cube-shaped, nine-storey museum building boasting a glass front and a spaciously designed museum street inside seems to be the perfect location for the rainbow installation. The circular walkway installed at a height of 50 metres has a diameter of 52 metres, a width of three metres, and rests on slim columns three and a half metres above the rooftop of the museum. Visitors inside “Your rainbow panorama” enjoy a unique panoramic view over Aarhus through the glass walls. Each of the coloured glass panels had to be specifically made for this purpose, since a special curvature was required to achieve the circular path. These panels are the only load-bearing structures that support the roof. By day, it is natural sunlight that is filtered through the laminated glass, making the entire installation seem to glow in the colours of the rainbow. At dusk and at night, daylight is replaced by 116 special recessed uplights provided by Zumtobel.
In order to achieve the same effect as by day, all the luminaires had to be concealed. The lighting solution expert solved this problem by using a specially developed indirect lighting system: T16 uplights were installed along the inner perimeter of the walkway. The special luminaires have been recessed into the edges of the floor below a walkable anti-glare louvre. The reflectors and materials used for the luminaires were specially optimised for this project, so that the entire ceiling surface is symmetrically illuminated. Thus, the ceiling of the panoramic walkway becomes a virtual source of light that makes the coloured glass panels seem to glow against a light background, while visitors are still able to enjoy the view from inside.
Dr. Harald Sommerer, CEO of the Zumtobel brand, sums up: “Projects of this kind allow us to provide evidence of our excellence in professionally illuminating objects of art and culture. We are pleased that we were able to provide a lighting concept that makes Olafur Eliasson’s panoramic walkway glow amazingly in the dark, ensuring that visitors will have an unique architectural lighting experience.”
Fact box on “Your rainbow panorama”:
Client: ARoS Art Museum, Aarhus/DK
Architects: Studio Olafur Eliasson, Berlin/D
Electrical consultant: NIRAS, Aarhus/DK
Steel construction/structural calculations: Rohlfing, Stemwede/D
Electrical installations: Risskov Installatoer Forretning A/S, Risskov/DK
Lighting installation: Zumtobel Special solution: 116 indirect luminaires with special reflector technology (1/54 W)
© Ole Hein Pedersen