Noel McCauley Workshop: Staging Emotional Environments

Drawing from the morning talk.

We participated in the Chaos at the Museum Conference (25-27 April) which took place at the Central Saint Martins School (London). The morning featured inspiring talks from well-established design studios such as Casson Mann, Nick Bell Design, Atelier Brückner amongst other. In the afternoon creative workshops took place and challenged our process of thinking about exhibition design and visitors’ participation. We signed up for Staging Emotional Environments workshop led by Noel McCauley, Berlin based architect co-founder of the multi-disciplinary studio Duncan McCauley.

Noel McCauley showing his work to the group.

Noel McCauley started by showing one exhibition project: IBA Land in Motion, his studio designed a few years ago. In the design process they used methods inspired from film study to understand how each room could convey a specific emotion and emphasise the exhibition’s themes. For this particular exhibition, the challenge was to convey the feeling of “hope” throughout the show. Below are some of the slides he shared with us that feature emotional sequencing of the space and one example from film theorist Eisentein.

Exhibition sequence/plan by Duncan McCauley.

Sergei Eisentein
, The Film Sense.



We started working on narrative and emotion using diagram that refered to Gustav Freytag‘s pyramide (rising action/climax/falling action). More info about Freytag’s pyramide and “dramatic structure” here. We first wrote down any kind of emotion we could think of and then stuck them where we thought it was appropriate on a space timeline.

World War I: 100 years, group 1. Collage visuals/emotions to convey.

Secondly, each group had a fictional exhibition theme to work on: “the Year of the Bus” and “the World War I, 100 years “. Using the different notions from Freytag’s pyramide: rising action, climax and falling action, we worked in organising visuals and different emotion on a spatial timeline. Below shows our thoughts and main conclusion:

  • Be aware of the emotions you create in an exhibition
  • Constructing an emotional sequence engages the visitor
  • Allow for multiple interpretations
  • Emotion facilitates a deep connection and makes the subject tangible
  • Narrative structure: How much of a storyteller are we?


The Year of the Bus, group 2. Collage visuals/emotions to convey.


Our main conclusion from the Staging Emotional Environments Workshop.

Niche Audiences, New Approaches workshop by Christopher Muniz and Charlie Barr (Studio MB)

Niche Audiences, New Approaches workshop by Christopher Muniz and Charlie Barr (Studio MB)

Each group presenting their workshop’s outcome.

Relevant link:


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