Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria

10th January 2023

Linea Light Group was selected by lighting designers LDA Studio to bring new light to the Austrian National Library in Vienna.

Europe’s largest baroque library, the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library) is an architectural jewel. Built between 1723 and 1737, the library now holds more than 7 million items; amongst which are 15,000 books that belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy and one of the world’s largest collections of Martin Luther’s Reformation manuscripts.

The building has an imposing façade with three orders of large windows set on the central pavilion, surmounted by a sculptural group of Minerva on a quadriga. Inside, the grand Baroque staircase leads to the Prunksaal – the Magnificent Hall. Entirely lined with wooden shelving, the library houses statues of personalities from Austrian history and members of the House of Habsburg.

The lighting overhaul project, led by Austrian practice LDA Studio and utilising fixtures from Linea Light Group, involved the hall and access staircase and saw the replacement and restoration of all lighting fixtures and relative electrical components. The aim was to create a more theatrically-lit environment through the installation of high-performance solutions that are perfectly integrated into the architecture of the building; one of the key objectives was to enhance the works while respecting the constraints imposed by historical preservation regulations.

The library’s State Hall extends almost 80-metres in length, with a height of 20-metres. The room is topped by a central dome, frescoed by court painter Daniel Gran in 1730. The previous lighting utilised large floodlights positioned along the gallery, the rendering of which was entirely insufficient. The challenge for LDA Studio was to create a scheme that would ensure exceptional colour rendering and highlight the warmth and colours within the space.

The new lighting system is based on three-phase DALI tracks, on which new LED luminaires are installed and connected. The decision was made to opt for an indirect lighting system, in order to organise the light distribution without compromising the works, but enhancing other details that had previously remained obscured.

LDA opted for various luminaires from Linea Light Group to provide the most comprehensive and respectful lighting possible for the location. Navata Optus projectors were chosen to illuminate the bookshelves, ceiling frescoes and a selection of architectural features. The wall version of the Optus_W2 was also installed, replacing the previous PAR64 fixtures, giving a better result. The two Optus light sources can be individually adjusted, and each luminaire has been customised with a DALI driver for perfect integration into the control system.

With a custom 3500K light colour and DALI control, High Protection luminaires emphasise the historic spiral staircases that lead from the visitor’s floor to the gallery, while Periskop projectors illuminate the statues and busts. A customised version of the Periskop, with 14 narrow beam elements, illuminates the Imperial Staircase.

The end result is a marvellous theatre in which centuries-old works of art and historical artefacts are staged.