Museum of the Home
"Home is where the heart is". Having successfully worked with the Museum of the Home, previously The Geffrye Museum, for over 25 years, we recently worked alongside Wright & Wright Architects on the upgrade and extension of the museum’s Grade I listed spaces.
The museum's brief focused on transforming the visitor experience and ensuring that the Museum was protected and sustained for generations to come. We provided a range of services - M&E Engineering, Acoustics, Lighting Design, and Building Physics & Modelling – and were closely involved both in developing the Museum’s existing historic buildings and in creating new public and support spaces. Opening the lower ground and first floors of the main almshouse building has enabled visitors to explore previously unseen parts of the museum and gain facilitated access to all buildings and gardens, ensuring the programme of community events can be expanded. New gallery and library spaces allow for more treasures from the collections to be seen and enjoyed, and an additional entrance, opposite Hoxton station, has been created. A new Learning Pavilion and Studio Pavilion revitalises the existing learning activities and programmes for people of all ages.
The museum's existing buildings have been sustained and retrofitted to make sure all operational energy is used in the most efficient way. Alongside this, the museum and design team's focus on maximising re-use of the existing buildings ensures the development is inherently low in embodied carbon.
Our design for the environmental and energy strategy was influenced by the museum’s desire to achieve stable humidity conditions in art exhibition and collection areas, while minimising operational energy and carbon as much as possible. In keeping with the approach we took with the museum over 25 years ago (putting the environment first and being very light with mechanical interventions), a predominantly passive strategy has been adopted for the new exhibition areas and stores. This also allowed for discreet solutions that simultaneously fulfil the museum’s environmental needs and minimise the space taken for services.
A key environmental achievement is that energy intensive air conditioning has been avoided. Together with Wright & Wright, we tried to find the right balance between insulating the building and respecting its historic nature. The environmental design is based on allowing the conditions within the spaces to vary throughout the year, thus minimising the energy loads. The solutions we developed include the use of windows and low energy fans for ventilation, as well as taking advantage of the thermal mass of the existing structure, where possible.
“Our design approach allowed the Museum to maximise the space for its exhibitions and collection storage within the envelope of the existing building. This was challenging as we were working with an existing building with lots of constraints. We tried to find the right balance to respect the building's historic nature while making it a comfortable space to visit.” – Michael Pangalis, Partner and Principal Engineer at Max Fordham
In addition to designing the core services, we worked closely with ZMMA on the fit-out of the new Home Galleries. We designed the exhibition lighting to mimic daylight and support the impression of being in a daylight-filled living room, even in a semi-basement.
"When we designed the lighting for the Museum of the Home we wanted it to be part of the story, helping to bring both the galleries and the contemporary spaces to life by taking an approach to the lighting that matched the historical context. Everything we chose was of a domestic scale, and we tried to maximise the use of daylight so that the journey around the Museum was a fun and healthy one. This meant carefully balancing the needs of conserving the collection with great views out, a legible and engaging lighting scheme, and the highest standards of sustainability." – Nick Cramp, Senior Partner and Light + Air Leader at Max Fordham
Insulating the roof and collection floors, and making everything as airtight as possible, has not only contributed to balancing out the room climates, but has also enhanced the acoustics within the museum.
“What was most challenging and we're most proud in terms of acoustics, is designing a good acoustic environment in the context of a historic building - it’s tricky and you have to take challenges as they come, because it’s not a blank canvas.” – Lewis Crabtree, Partner and Senior Acoustic Engineer at Max Fordham