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Lichtfries am Neubau des
Kunstmuseums Basel

iart ag, Design und Engineering

Valentin Spiess, Steffen Blunk, Oliver Heyerick, Lucien Iseli, Gordon Jaentsch

Christ & Gantenbein, Design und Architektur

Emanuel Christ, Christoph Gantenbein, Julia Tobler, Michael Bertschmann, Stephanie Hirschvogel

Ludovic Balland, Typografie

Technical partners:

Multivision LED-Systeme GmbH (LED-Hardware),
ZPF Ingenieure AG (Bauingenieur)


Bau- und Verkehrsdepartement Basel-Stadt,
Städtebau & Architektur, Hochbauamt


The light frieze forms part of the new building of Kunstmuseum Basel – the Basel Fine Arts Museum –, which was formally opened in 2016. It consists of an LED-based light installation, in the form of a band 3 metres high and 115 metres long, which encircles the building at a height of 12 metres. By contrast with other media façades the frieze, which comes across as a symbiosis of stone and light, has an actual physical presence and constitutes an integral component of the architecture. Making a sophisticated use of the existing horizontal structure of joints, it projects a subtle display of texts and patterns onto the skin of the building, creating the impression of a fleeting play of light and shadow. The LEDs inserted in the joints cannot be seen from the street. They respond dynamically to the changing light situation in the course of the day. Conceived as a media membrane, the light frieze amounts, in both technological and aesthetic terms, to an extrapolation into the digital age of an architectural element that has been familiar since antiquity.

Comments of the nominators

Though limited in magnitude and range, this carefully developed and perfectly realised communication project represents a sculptural and technological achievement. The frieze transforms the façade of the museum into an effective communication medium capable of representing the living face of the institution.

Comments by the Jury

The light frieze project forming part of the new building of the Basel Fine Arts Museum made an overwhelming impact on both the hearts and the minds of the jury. The light installation makes as convincing an impression in conceptual terms as it does through its sophisticated technical/practical realisation and the aesthetic effect it achieves. A frieze is a very ancient, traditional architectural element, which from time immemorial has combined an ornamental function with communication. Here it has been translated into a form suitable for the digital age, and the gratifying result is an absolutely resounding success. The project content embodies references to the museum as an institution at a number of points, which provides a fruitful basis for the repeated replaying of the installation. The jury would also like to pay tribute to the light frieze as a textbook example of a successfully integrated planning process, where designers and architects have all been able to contribute their special skills.