Deutsches Optisches Museum

Jena 2022-

With expertise in precision engineering technologies for microscopes and other optical devices, headquarters of renowned companies such as Carl Zeiss AG, and important mathematicians and physicists based in Jena, a long and important history in the fields of optics, physics and natural sciences has made the city a world capital for optical sciences. The work by Studio Other Spaces – a facade for the new entrance building to Deutsches Optisches Museum Jena (German Optical Museum) – acts as homage to this legacy, contributing to the museum's endeavour to coin Jena as the city of light and as a centre for optical technologies.

Connecting the existing optician school and Deutsches Optisches Museum, the facade made of coloured glass and mirror panels embodies the themes of optics, colour theory and the importance of light. It acts as a large-scale version of an optical experiment where all elements of the building envelop become part of the setup. Based on the shape of the circle, which can be found in many devices and mathematic contemplations surrounding optics – microscopes, binoculars, lenses, our pupils, and even the sun, and thus the origin of light, being round – the facade functions as a light laboratory. The effects come to life by both sunlight during the day, artificial lighting at night, and the movement of visitors on both the inside and the outside of the building.

The facade of the new entrance building consists of a mosaic of hand-blown glass pieces, combined in a centuries-old technique, with vertical load bearing aluminium fins attached to the inside and outside of the glass. In its centre, a circle with 11 metres diameter containing stripes in three colours, offers an optical experiment: depending on the angle at which the facade is viewed, the cyan, magenta and yellow stripes visually merge, forming various hues, all based on the combination of visible and blocked colours and reflections in the fins. The three chosen colours are based on Goethe's theory of colours and represent an interplay between light, shadow, presence and absence of colours.

Passers-by can experience the poetic experiment that comes to life by way of the viewer's perspective, the time of day or night, and the weather conditions. This effect is enhanced through movement, making the viewer an active participant in their own personal experience.

Client: Deutsches Optisches Museum
Location: Jena, Germany
Date: 2022–