A sustainable collections store

22 10 2013

A sustainable collections store

The Whitworth has worked hard over recent years to embed sustainability within all areas of its activity, and sees taking a flexible approach to environmental conditions as crucial to energy saving and reducing carbon emissions. The Gallery is committed to taking a lead in recent thinking around broadening the parameters in which our collections can be stored and displayed.

A large proportion of the collection storage and study rooms for all three main Gallery collections have, up until now, been located in an inappropriate space on the first floor. The spaces were divided by partition walls and had false ceilings dating from the 1970s; large windows made the rooms more suited to human activity than as storage areas and air-conditioning had to work hard and inefficiently against the poor thermal properties of the building fabric. It was an obvious choice therefore for architects MUMA to propose re-locating the collection storage to an area at lower ground floor level.

For the last few months, our contractors have been preparing the new Collections Zone. Air-conditioning will be replaced with passive design techniques designed to reduce energy use: the environment will be controlled by a combination of the thermal mass of the ground slab, newly insulated roofs above, and the new promenades surrounding the storage rooms – creating the buffering properties of a room within a room; conditions will be adjusted through conservation heating (ground source heat pumps will be installed in the ground of the adjacent Whitworth Park) as well as natural ventilation via earth tubes.

In anticipation of moving our collections into the new storage spaces, the environment is currently being carefully monitored and data assessed by our M&E team, Buro Happold.

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