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building study

Having completed design work for phase one of the project, FaberMaunsell was appointed as consultant to oversee the management and implementation of all mechanical and electrical services for the phase two project.

Existing phase one galleries, which were only provided with heating, were redesigned to be controlled cooled environments, thus matching the new phase two galleries in providing a suitable environment for art loans from around the world. One of the largest challenges was to add cooling to the galleries without destroying the historic fabric, while also meeting Stanton Williams'desire for clean, modern spaces. In addition to environmental control, the latest lighting and security technology was provided to maximise the visitor experience and meet the exacting modern standards for museum security.

Initially the client's brief was for close control (temperature 20-22¦C, humidity 50-55%RH) of air-conditioned galleries throughout the existing historic house. A feasibility study indicated this would create significant damage to the existing fabric and impact on the available space and visual quality of the galleries.

With Stanton Williams, FaberMaunsell developed a more holistic, minimal, low-energy approach that used the inherent qualities of the 600mm thick walls to naturally moderate the environment.The building was divided into close-control airconditioned galleries for visiting collections from around the world, and comfort-cooled galleries (temperature 16-26infinityC, humidity 45-65%RH) where the internal environment could slowly change in tune with the external environment.

FaberMaunsell completed detailed computer modelling to confirm the comfort cooling solution was achievable.A fullsize gallery was constructed at BSRIA to test the concept design, which also allowed different supply grille arrangements to be tested to verify that a hidden low-level supply terminal with no grille would provide the appropriate environment for visitors and the collections.Existing high ceilings allow a zone above head height for hot air to accumulate.The mock-up indicated that the computer model was very accurate. A three-dimensional visual image of the temperatures and air flows achieved in the mock-up and sketch illustrating the minimal strategy are shown here.

This holistic concept achieved significant savings in the budget and dramatically reduced the space for services, allowing the main infrastructure for the three-storey building to be run in a 400mm-deep void in the first-floor ceiling. Additional savings on running costs were achieved by using the lake in the grounds as a source of heat.

Gordon Smith, FaberMaunsell

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