Go back to article: A sustainable storage solution for the Science Museum Group

Abstract

Museums in recent years have sought ways to reduce the environmental impact of their operations. One approach has been to look at ways to cut back on the energy required to stabilise storage conditions, particularly relative humidity, through passive moisture control rather than mechanical systems of heating and air conditioning. To this end the Science Museum Group employed hemp in the form of hemp-lime concrete, to construct a new storage facility for its collections, drawing on research into the buffering ability of hygroscopic natural building materials. The objective was to reduce energy use, to decrease reliance on mechanical systems and to produce very stable levels of relative humidity, in order to ensure the preservation of significant heritage collections. Although a prototype, to date, this building has performed as anticipated despite some initial construction snags and mechanical system malfunctions. The results encourage further investigation into hygroscopic construction materials to design even more energy-saving ways of providing stable storage conditions for museums.

Figure 1

Colour photograph of a steel and hempcrete storage building under construction

The Hempcrete Museum Store (HMS) at Wroughton nearing completion

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/150405/001