SVM Consulting Engineers
SVM Consulting Engineers
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Natural History Museum: Hintze Hall

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Hintze Hall is the cathedral-like entrance to the Natural History Museum. The hall is an exhibit in itself, made up of unique, listed artefacts such as the hand-painted botanical tiles lining the roof, and the 1,300-year old sequoia tree cross section sitting high above the main entrance archway.

We were appointed to undertake the M&E base build and exhibition fit-out works required to reinstate the blue whale skeleton. In preparation for this redisplay 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 original ventilation plans for the iconic hall, designed in 1865. Having researched Waterhouse’s original plans we discovered many of his solutions were not finished properly during the museum’s construction, significantly compromising the ventilation in the hall: temperatures can reach 40ºC during summer months. By sympathetically restoring natural ventilation openings we achieved a 65% improvement in conditions, minimising thermal extremes and achieving a more stable 28ºC ideal.

The Museum’s Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, and Sir David Attenborough  attended a gala launch reception on 13th July 2017, ahead of the public opening the next day.

In a personal letter of thanks Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, said, "We have received congratulations from across the globe from natural history museums and friends to welcome Hope, our blue whale.  Already we are seeing record levels of visitors.... [The team] have created a bold, ambitious and beautiful public space that will be the first touchpoint of visitors to the Natural History Museum for generations to come."

On 16th May 2018, the Hintze Hall project was awarded Highly Commended status at the Museums + Heritage Awards 2018 in the Permanent Exhibition category.

The photographs accompanying this story are credited to the Trustees of NHM

CLIENT:  Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum welcomes more than five million visitors a year and is a world-leading science research centre. The Museum was voted by the public as the Cultural Attraction of the Year at the London Lifestyle Awards 2016. Through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling the biggest challenges facing the world today. It helps enable food security, eradicate disease and manage resource scarcity. It is studying the diversity of life and the delicate balance of ecosystems to ensure the survival of our planet.

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