The EnLIGHTenment

Host Building | The Grand Lodge of Edinburgh

The project is located in the Freemason’s Hall, New Town, Edinburgh - a category A listed structure with a great historical and architectural importance. The building accommodates a museum, ceremonial spaces, administrative offices, and a grand entrance lobby. The Grand Lodge of Edinburgh is the governing body of Freemasonry in Scotland. It has the supreme legislative, executive, and judicial Masonic authority in the country. The interior of the building offers a complex collection of traces full of meaning; There is absolutely no detail that is left un-designed. To put it in simple terms, the context is a building about the art of building. A remarkable quality of the space is that memory and nostalgia find their way into the textures, objects, and furniture pieces through the use of inscribed Masonic symbols. The high-quality craft is particularly translated into the methods of fabrication, as the majority of objects are bespoke and hand crafted. The entrance lobby forms the focus of the design brief, which included the investigation and adaptation of a small interior to give it a new purpose, function and/or significance with the primary goal of facilitating greater public engagement throughout the year.


Project Details

  • Project Type: Academic 

  • Program : MA Interior Design

  • Year of Completion:  Fall 2019

  • Project role: Individual project

  • Project Scale: Small Intervention / Detailed Design

Design Concept 

The Grand Lodge is characterized by a unique atmosphere that manipulates all the senses. The building is full of symbols. However, the one symbol that embraces all other symbols is light. Light is considered as a powerful icon in Freemasonry. It symbolizes knowledge as masonic initiation is said to take the initiate from ‘darkness’ to ‘light’ through the passing of knowledge and wisdom. Sons of light, is what Freemasons are referred to, as opposed to the people who lack knowledge and are metaphorically, still in the dark. As a result, light qualities in the Grande Lodge’s lobby space explain a lot about the organization and are used as a design tool. In the lobby space, the focus is oriented towards the interior qualities as it barely has access to natural light, a phenomenon that gives critical importance to the moments where artificial lights are introduced based on both location and intensity. 


With the brief being open to personal interpretation, the Freemasons have stated their desire for the project to facilitate greater public engagement in the lobby space throughout the year. A request that partly relates to the perceived secretive nature of the society. The three main elements that are missing to activate the space are: light, hierarchy and life. The intervention uses these elements to address the Freemasons’ request. Freemasonry is an ancient society that has continued its traditions rooted in the Middle Ages until today. As a result, it is quite important that the design intervention respects the Freemason’s adherence to changing little in their spaces.

Design Proposal

The project  functions as a gallery space which forms a communication platform that the Freemasons can use to present their ideas, symbolism and history to the public. It is located on the right side of the main entrance doors in order to balance out the composition with the exhibits already existing on the left side, and because of the relative dark nature of the zone. The gallery has a unique character. UV lights form the badge symbol of freemasonry and when they are lit; they reveal the text written with invisible ink on the exhibition panels. The gallery resembles the passing of Masonry knowledge and the journey of moving to the light from the dark. It also presents Freemasonry as a society that is transparent and open towards sharing their knowledge and wisdom. The design language is modern and minimal, which further enhances the feeling of transparency. It also preserves and highlights the intricate and rich details of the space. The panels are designed with a great degree of flexibility in terms of construction and assembly. They are also flexible in terms of the shelves’ locations, as shelves can be moved to address different age groups. In addition, the invisible ink medium provides a high level of freedom as it can be easily changed depending on the exhibits. As a result, the gallery will be constantly changing, so the element of interest will remain intact. There is also a potential of keeping the gallery open even when the rest of the facilities are closed.


" From Darkness to Light"

What does the

             space feel like ?