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New Science Museum Storage Facility paves the way towards a Sustainable Future
A former WWII airfield in Wiltshire is home to a low energy, climate-controlled storage facility which is set to become an exemplar of sustainability. Literally a building within a building, the National Museum of Science and Industry’s (NMSI) new archive facility at Wroughton has been built inside an existing hangar using low carbon, natural materials that require minimal energy to run and result in a building with tightly controlled temperature and humidity to ensure the longevity of the museum’s collection.
Housing more than 16000 items from the fields of science, medicine, engineering, media and industry in eleven hangars at the airfield, and including such giant exhibits as a 140 ton Fleet Street press and an airliner used by the Rolling Stones, the NMSI were looking to create a new archive facility to store a wide range of sensitive items – from horse-drawn carriages to fine art drawings.
In order to create a sustainable building within the one acre hangar, the decision was taken to build a structure made from low-carbon, natural materials including hemp and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and to be powered by a new on-site renewable energy scheme.
Matt Moore, Head of Sustainable Development and Wroughton Site said ‘The Science Museum Group holds sustainability as a core value, and we aim to achieve the highest standards of design in any new project. The new store at the Wroughton site aims to address some of the impacts of archival storage. By using innovative building materials we, along with Lime Technology and Stora Enso Building Solutions, have developed a low-carbon sustainable store for some of our more sensitive collections.’
Delivered by Lime Technology, Emission Zero Engineering Architecture Ltd and Emission Zero R&D Ltd, the team took an integrated approach to the design, analysis and system engineering for the new archive facility, which in itself provided a challenge of understanding the seasonal microclimate within the hangar.
This store, constructed from Hemclad® panels, will provide the exacting standards required for long term object conservation - most importantly humidity buffering and temperature control - using passive building methods.
This sustainable facility had a strict 16 week timeframe, which along with thermal performance and humidity control targets, necessitated an environmentally friendly and quick build solution.
A fabric first approach
To meet the challenge, a steel primary structure and Stora Enso’s cross laminated floor cassettes were combined with pre-fabricated Hemclad® panels from Lime Technology in order to regulate humidity and maintain a stable internal temperature. This passive system is combined with two Solar PV powered air handling units (with heat recovery) which can actively regulate the internal conditions.
Initial investigation of the existing ground floor in the hangar by contractor the Sylva Group revealed a surprisingly shallow concrete slab and inadequate underlying geology to carry the increased loadings. The slab was strengthened locally with the introduction of mass concrete pads also enabling the installation of an insulated floor.
Offering the cost effective and fast track credentials associated with offsite construction, Hemclad® provides high levels of insulation, thermal inertia and negative embodied carbon. Utilising the environmental credentials of Tradical® Hemcrete®, the cladding system reduces energy load and regulates the humidity within the building in line with BS 5454 - the British Standard Recommendation for Storage and Exhibition of Archive Documents.
Hemclad® can be supplied in a range of standard U-values from 0.11 to 0.19 W/m2.K to help provide a thermally efficient building envelope. Its unique combination of thermal inertia and insulation prevents fluctuations in temperature to create a stable environment and greatly reduce energy usage. Combined with the CLT floors and roof, the facility was able to achieve the desired airtightness and a permanent temperature which required little need for additional mechanical heating.
Due to the confined space beneath the roof trusses, the prefabricated CLT roof slabs had to be slid into position by the installation team at roof level. The varnished CLT faces of the floors and ceilings are a feature within the space.
‘The CLT supplied for Wroughton is fully sustainable. It is produced using PEFC certified spruce which is sourced and supplied by Stora Enso Building Solutions. CLT’s load bearing properties means it is able to take the weight of very heavy items and the reduced depth of the panels – 100 mm ceiling panels and 160 mm floor panels – allows for maximum storage space.’ commented Wayne Probert of Stora Enso Building Solutions.
The CLT panels were manufactured at the company’s purpose-built factory and adjacent fully integrated sawmill at Bad St Leonard in Austria.
The integration of factory and sawmill means that raw material selection is greatly improved and CO2 emissions reduced because there is no extensive raw material transportation between the saw mill and the factory.
The company has recently launched a second CLT manufacturing facility at Ybbs Mill in Austria, giving an additional annual capacity of 63 500 m3 of cross-laminated timber and making Stora Enso Building Solutions the largest CLT manufacturer internationally.
During the construction of the facility, there was 150m3 of Hemcrete® in the Hemclad® panels which will lock up 20 tonnes of CO2 while the 90m3 of CLT delivered equates to about 67 tonnes of CO2 stored. With these impressive sustainable credentials, the building has potential to be carbon positive in use, because the PV array will generate more energy that the building uses.
‘The unique properties of Hemcrete® have allowed us to design a new
archive facility in which the internal climate is heavily influenced by the fabric of the building, thus significantly dampening the influence of the seasonal weather changes,’ said architect Simon Kirton of Emission Zero. ‘The result is a very efficient building fabric which allows a significant reduction in space conditioning and annual running costs when compared to a traditional archive facility.’
In 2009, the museum joined the 10:10 project - a global warming mitigation campaign - in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. It is anticipated that this cutting edge building will operate at around a third of a conventional museum store’s costs and emissions and this design, when fully commissioned and tested, is likely to become a blueprint for any new archival buildings at the Wroughton site.
With the specification of Hemclad® and CLT, the Science Museum will continue to improve its environmental performance whilst also ensuring its valuable and historical archives remain in optimum condition for many years to come.