National Military Museum – Soesterberg

  • Location: Soesterberg, The Netherlands
  • Open: December 2014
  • Architect: Felix Claus  Dick van Wageningen Architects
  • Exhibition design: Kossmann.dejong
  • Exhibition construction: Bruns
  • Lighting design, lighting and media control, AV technology and installation: Rapenburg Plaza
  • AV content: Shosho, De Aanpak
  • Interactives: Shosho, Fabrique
  • Light installation: Ata Tech
  • Light manufacturer : CLS , Philips

After an intensive period of design and installation, the National Military Museum was opened on December 11, 2014 by King Willem-Alexander.
The museum presents a comprehensive view of the armed forces in the past, present and future.

The museum offers a true experience with six theme areas, experience-history areas, interactive zones, several cabinets and, in the imposing daylight hall, you can find tanks, planes and helicopters exhibited. In an immense building, designed by Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architects there is room for a 20,000m2 of exhibition space. The building is located on the former Soesterberg airbase and is surrounded by a beautiful countryside.

Three building consortia with one design team tendered for this ‘design and build’ commission. Rapenburg Plaza was in the winning group, which was led by the Heijmans construction company. In order to win this order, the consortium produced a fully detailed design with the exhibition architect Kossmann.dejong and décor builder Bruns, among others. This resulted in a thick book that functioned as a manual during the entire period up to the opening.

To tell the rich stories of the armed forces in a thrilling way we used a mix of transmission means. Multimedia such as movies, animations, sound and theatrical dynamic lighting, play an important role in this.
As a design, engineering and installation company we were responsible for the full range of AV and lighting design, and also the Show Control system design. We installed and programmed all audio-visual, lighting and Show Control equipment.
Initial work began two years ago when we took part in the pitch for NMM led by construction company Heijmans. Along with Bruns BV, the interior decorator and exhibition designer Kossmann.dejong the necessary audiovisual resources were determined and the lighting plan was worked out in outline form.
From January 2014 we started installing in the new building.

Lighting Design
After the tender had been won, there followed an intensive design programme in order to arrive at a final lighting design. Lighting designer Pelle Herfst and his team marked out more than 3,900 fittings/light sources. The basic principle behind this was to use energy-efficient (LED) light sources.
In the theme halls and experience rooms, extensive use was made of dynamic theatre lighting in order to reinforce the atmosphere in the room, to support the projected images or to enhance a story. The use of (changing) colour moods was made possible by such means as the use of RGB(W) light sources.
To enable this integration and to synchronise the light with all audio and video, almost all light is controlled using the DMX protocol. Of course, a comprehensive lighting control system is also needed in order to program this. We were also responsible for this system and its programming.
An important part of the lighting design are the controllable 1519 DMX display spots with zoom lensesthat were specially designed to our own specifications. This enabled the collection to be precisely lit and the percentages could also be adjusted so that the objects were not exposed to more than the maximum permitted light levels.
Pelle Herfst: “The challenge in this museum as far as lighting was concerned was primarily to create an exciting, theatrical experience and also to ensure the extremely low permitted lux values on the collection.”

AV System Design
In addition to a number of complex AV solutions, the infrastructure was the biggest challenge. To ensure that all equipment is operating and is controllable, we rolled out miles of cables. All equipment is network based and therefore had to be fitted with a UTP cable. The accessibility of all positions had to be ensured for installation and future maintenance.
To give an impression of the amount of material: There are more than 220 computers, 40 AV players, more than 250 speakers and headphones, 100 screens and touch screens and nearly 100 projectors.
The cable plan and the layout of the seven server rooms were of paramount importance in the design process for the system design.
Sierk Janszen: “The infrastructure was our biggest challenge. In other words, cable lengths, size, distances and everything connected with it. You cannot think to scale, you need to think 1 on 1 otherwise it won’t work, the museum is really big.”

Show + Light Control
To control all exhibition components, Rapenburg Plaza designed, installed and programmed a network-based ShowControl system. This system comprises Medialon software, KissBox interfaces and industrial network hardware and software. The system not only gives the personnel complete control over the lighting and AV equipment but also allows the Rapenburg Plaza programmers to manage and monitor the entire installation remotely.
The lighting Control systeem is based on a network of 28 distributed Pharos controllers divided over the 7 equipment rooms controlling 8000 DMX lighting channels.

In a period of about 8 months, all equipment was installed and connected. Much of the AV equipment and lighting is installed in technical theatre bridges at 8 meters high.
We are proud of the integration of these technical bridges in the building. These have been developed on our initiative and to our design.They are an essential part of the overall technical infrastructure. Much of the AV equipment and lighting has been installed in them, making the equipment easy to reach for maintenance.
Sierk Janszen: “I am most proud of the technical bridges, which are just as you find them in many theatres. Here you can see our theatrical background, as in so many things. It took us a lot of persuasion to get them in. It makes the whole building a lot more flexible and faster to work in.