Architect Yoshio Taniguchi’s design of a new wing of the Kyoto National Museum is a minimalist annex that starkly contrasts with the original ornate, brick museum, which dates back to 1895. To make sure the landmark would also make a strong impression after dark, lighting design firm Iwai Lumimedia Design also orchestrated a balance between strong forms and nuanced illumination.

Making use of a translucent-glass curtain wall that fronts the building’s lobby, lighting designers mounted fixtures along the wall’s horizontal beam. Viewed from outside, the effect is similar to a glowing traditional Japanese paper lantern.

Lumimedia founder Tatsuya Iwai also wanted this luminous quality to extend to the limestone facade to highlight the richness of that material. To do this, he positioned a row of linear wall washers along the outside of a skylight above the lobby and focused them on the central upper register of the stone wall. Additional spotlights strategically located on the site are angled to illuminate the corners of the wall, and are tempered to ensure an even wash of light across its surface. The exterior lighting treatment articulates the building’s architectural details at night and subtly merges the background plane with the foreground. The result is a dramatic nighttime identity for the museum.