PROTECTING V&A TREASURES September 2010
An award winning £32 million project to reconfigure and refurbish the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has shed new light on more than 1300 years of history, with a little help from Levolux.
Originally designed by Aston Webb in 1891, the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries are spread across 10 rooms on two floors, at the south-east corner of the museum. Designed by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects), this is the biggest project undertaken by the ‘V&A’ for almost 10 years.
One of the key objectives of the project was to control the amount of natural daylight entering the galleries from above through its many skylights and large glazed areas on two levels. As the UK’s leading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a comprehensive shading solution, incorporating aluminium Aerofoil Fins, Venetian Blinds and Roller Blinds.
The custom solution effectively filters direct sunlight entering the building, reducing solar heat gain and controlling glare. This has helped the museum to maintain a cool, comfortable environment without the need for air conditioning and limits its dependency on artificial lighting, thereby reducing its energy consumption.
196 fixed extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins were installed internally at high level in Gallery 50A, one of the museum’s most impressive. Its nave-like space has been partially covered on each side, with 14 banks of Aerofoil Fins, each measuring 350mm wide and spanning 4300mm. The Aerofoil Fins, each with an anodised finish, are designed to reduce the amount of direct sunlight striking the floor of the gallery, effectively bouncing the sun’s rays onto the gallery’s walls at high level, allowing daylight to cascade down into the gallery below. This improves overall daylight and comfort levels in the gallery and helps to protect light sensitive objects being exhibited at low level.
Distributed throughout rooms 62, 63 and 64a, are 64 motorised Venetian Blinds, fitted within external recesses in the facade to shade south facing windows at lower and upper levels. Linked to a stand-alone control system, the Venetian blinds feature 50mm wide aluminium slats, finished with a pearl white powder coating. The self reefing blinds can be lowered, tilted/turned and raised according to the level of shade required.
To complete the custom solution, Levolux installed 8 motorised and 19 manually adjustable internal roller blinds. Applied on lower and upper levels throughout 6 galleries, covering south facing windows, the blinds provide effective control of light, heat and glare. A range of coloured fabrics complement the overall scheme.
The new galleries bring together more than 1,800 objects from the twilight years of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance period. These can now be enjoyed in a carefully controlled, naturally lit setting, partly thanks to a custom solar shading solution from Levolux.