The Science Museum has been honoured for its green credentials this month by scooping two prestigious awards for its new Hemcrete storage facility at Wroughton.
The innovative storage building which is made from hemp and lime, was honoured for its sustainable design by winning the Sustainability Award at the Museums and Heritage Awards – beating stiff competition from the BP Showcase Pavilion at the Olympic Park and the Museum of Surfing.
The project was also recognised earlier this month at the Greenbuild Awards, where it won the Best Workplace New Build category – fending off competition from organisations such as Co-op and Network Rail.
Like many other national museums, the Science Museum only displays 8% of its collections to the public – there is just not enough space to display any more. The other 92% of the collection is housed in storage facilities. One of these storage sites is a former airfield near Swindon, which holds 16,000 objects including large scale items such as aeroplanes, trains and cars.
The Hemcrete facility was designed as a radical new solution to protecting objects including horse-drawn carriages, fine art works, wooden ship models and paper archives. Many of these objects are sensitive to changing climate conditions such as light, heat and moisture so providing the right environment is essential to prevent deterioration.
The solution was to create a zero-carbon storage building from hemp and lime – low carbon natural materials which provide temperature and humidity buffering and ensure that the museum’s collections are maintained for future generations.
Matt Moore, Head of Sustainable Development, Science Museum said “I’m delighted that the Hemcrete project has won these awards and been recognised by the museums and building sectors. The project is part of a wider remit to reduce emissions across all our sites. Using science and engineering to look after the Science Museum collections seems to be a perfect solution to one of our biggest challenges.”
Hemcrete is a material made from hemp fibre and lime mortar mixed and moulded in precast, pre-dried cassettes to form Hemclad panels. The material is typically used to provide sustainable building materials for housing and industrial building sectors.
As well as protecting objects from deterioration, the Hemcrete facility allows the museum to reduce carbon emissions and make significant energy savings. The new store will be used to house valuable objects from the Science Museum as well as those of its sister museum – the National Railway Museum.