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A glass cabinet and linking staircase

working details

The historic interior of No 78 Derngate, Northampton, has been restored as a small museum; public access has been improved by inserting a new steel frame structure and staircase behind the facade of No 80, the adjoining house in the terrace.

The staircase rises from basement to second floor and is flanked by a glass display cabinet which also rises the full height of the building.

Together with displays on the opposite wall, the glass cabinet creates a series of gallery spaces on each floor, enticing visitors with views of exhibits as they pass down the staircase. It acts as an enclosure to the staircase yet its transparency gives a sense of light and space within the relatively restricted rooms. The displays on the opposite walls are lit with fittings concealed below a strip of laminated translucent glass set in the floor.

At each floor level the cabinets are supported by a steel framework; it is concealed by a translucent glass strip which lies flush with the oak floor finish and by a light-diffusing polycarbonate strip which lies flush with the ceiling. The space between the translucent elements houses light fittings and connectors for the stainless steel cables and clips which support the 10mm toughened glass shelves.

The cabinet walls are formed of frameless 10m toughened glass sheets; on the room side they are fixed with stainless steel pivot hinges, allowing them to open to maintain displays; on the stair side they are clamped in steel angles fixed back to the structure.

The staircase design maintains the feeling of openness and transparency. It has open risers and oak and steel treads welded to triangular plates which connect them to a pair of sloping steel strings.

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