Museums hat trick for SVM
29th June 2016
We are delighted to announce that we’ve been appointed to undertake a number of prestigious projects for not one, not two, but three of London’s largest museums; and they are all just a stone’s throw from each other.
Known to many as the Museum District of London, South Kensington is home to three of London's biggest and best museums: the V&A, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. Over the last 20 years we have undertaken many projects in each of these celebrated attractions, but this is the first time we have been employed by all three at once.
SVM Director, Paul Rushmer, has 25 years experience in the highly specialised field of building services design for museums, galleries, libraries and archives. Paul will be leading all the forthcoming projects for these three museums. He says, “We are delighted to be working on so many exciting schemes for these esteemed institutions. Sensitivity is the key to success for each one of the projects and, because the spaces we will be designing for were constructed in the 1800s and 1900s, we need to apply today’s innovative, high-performance solutions with a light, sympathetic touch. Our ultimate aim is to create inviting, comfortable, connected spaces that people enjoy spending time in; our services will go unnoticed yet they work hard to showcase and protect so many priceless exhibits.”
Lounging in The V&A
We have been appointed to undertake two schemes as part of the V&A’s ongoing restoration and regeneration scheme called FuturePlan.
Working alongside architects, Carmody Groarke, we are designing the building services solution for a prestigious new Members’ Room. This room will be housed in space that was formerly inhabited by the administrative offices of the National Art Library, and will comprise an informal private lounge and dining space for the museum’s growing membership . The Members’ Room will overlook the new Sackler Courtyard and Exhibition Road entrance, and is set to open in 2017.
In addition to our responsibilities on the Members’ Room scheme, we will also be designing the services for the relocated offices, which will be moving to space adjacent to the private lounge. We will be carefully phasing the projects to enable uninterrupted operations for the staff in the National Art Library’s offices.
Running alongside these two larger schemes we have also been appointed to undertake various smaller upgrade and refurbishment projects as part of an ongoing framework arrangement.
Exhibitionists in the Natural History Museum
We are immensely proud of our role in the much-publicised ‘reimagining’ of the iconic Hintze Hall, which centres around a vast blue whale skeleton (discovered in Wexford Harbour in 1891) suspended in place of the Diplodocus cast that has stood in the hall for 35 years. Working with multi award-winning exhibit designers, Casson Mann, we will be undertaking the M&E base build and exhibition fit-out works. In preparation we carried out a full thermal analysis of the hall to understand and improve the internal environmental conditions for both visitors and exhibits.
Using the latest CFD modelling techniques we were able to revive Alfred Waterhouse’s ventilation plans for the iconic hall, designed in 1865. Having researched Waterhouse’s original engineering drawings we discovered many of his solutions were not finished properly during the museum’s construction. By sympathetically restoring natural ventilation openings we achieved a marked improvement in conditions, minimising thermal extremes and achieving a more stable ideal.
The museum is also renowned for its temporary exhibits, with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition being a notable example. These exhibitions, and other temporary exhibitions, are housed in an area called the Waterhouse Gallery, which also incorporates a small shop. We are currently developing designs to enhance the building services supplying this area and enable exhibits with more exacting environmental demands to be shown.
A human approach for the Science Museum
Opening in February 2017, the Science Museum’s next blockbuster exhibition Robots, explores the 500-year story of humanoid robots, featuring over 100 robots from 16th century automaton to today’s androids. We developed the electrical scheme for the exhibition, which will be housed in 750m.sq of dedicated space that we completed the shell-&-core designs for ten years ago. Temporary exhibitions in this gallery change regularly and once ‘Robots’ closes in London it will embark on a five year UK and international tour.