Above Scotland

In July 2012 we won a competition to design an exhibition of aerial photography at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. The photographs were curated by Architecture + Design Scotland and sourced from the collection of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).

Our design idea was that aerial photographs taken in the unusual perspective of looking down shouldn’t be displayed on the walls but in the same ‘looking down’ perspective. They also proposed to encourage visitors to really look at and study the photographs by making a map room feel to the space.

The exhibition consists of 25 specially designed and fabricated thin steel tables, one for each photograph. Each table has a lamp with a built in magnifying lens to allow the viewer to ‘zoom’ into the high resolution photographs, exploring a normally digital experience in an analogue way.

The light from the magnifying lamps is the only exhibition lighting: making an atmospheric space where the photographs are the main focus. Information on walls was limited to titles so that focus and attention is on the photographs. A short description with location information is included on each table.

The tables are 1m wide 800mm deep and slope from 750mm at the back to 650mm at the front. By angling the tables the visitor can see all the images on entry to the exhibition and the extent of the exhibition. It is also inclusive to people of all ages and ability. The right-angled corners allow viewers to lean on the table and really examine the pictures.

Electrical wiring is cleverly concealed inside the steel table frames to keep visual distraction to a minimum.

The exhibition, which is likely to tour, is fully demountable and the tables stack to allow efficient storage. The tables are also very light and robust. Unlike most exhibitions that are made of mdf and thrown away at the end of the project, we hope that the tables will be reused in future exhibitions or as work tables thus further reducing waste and the exhibition’s carbon footprint.