Make Do and Mend for the 21st Century

Communicating the story, personality and ingenuity of Heath Robinson, a new contemporary building uses PEFC-certified CLT to make a place for community arts, activity and exhibitions.Heath Robinson Museum Ceiling By Tom Fish Medium

A dynamic new museum and shop, heritage learning centre and community resource to facilitate greater understanding and appreciation of the life and work of the idiosyncratic English illustrator and painter, the fully accessible building, includes an archive, permanent and temporary exhibition galleries and learning/activity space.

Primarily a new building, it adjoins and is connected to a much modified locally listed Georgian house. A cross laminated timber (CLT) external and internal structure was chosen to allow large spans and room heights without additional roof or wall supports.

The distinct form of the building reflects the idiosyncratic style of Robinson’s illustrations. An innovative and visible structural approach was adopted, much like the beautifully crafted strange machines Robinson drew in his illustrations. Creating a low energy building was a key design consideration, this ultimately led to the use of CLT for the wall, first floor and roof structure.

Sustainable Material

The use of CLT substantially reduced the energy required to construct the building and subsequently run it. Traditionally museums have high embodied energy and running costs due to the tightly controlled internal conditions. The panels are made from PEFC-certified Spruce, grown sustainably in Finland and Austria. CLT has a thermal conductivity of 0.11W/mK compared to 0.6 for concrete. This low figure allowed a thinner thermal insulation to achieve the required external wall U-value, further reducing the building’s embodied energy.Heath Robinson Museum Exterior By Tom Fish Medium

The construction systems considered at design stage were CLT or a hybrid steel frame/concrete block and timber roof joist system. Although the steel frame could have been erected quickly, the concrete blocks and timber joists would have added many weeks. The CLT offered a safer build as the time working at height was reduced. The steel/block/joists approach would have been constructed from hundreds of elements, many of which had to be installed at height and by hand. However, the full height CLT wall panels were craned into place and temporarily supported from the ground. A small number of carpenters were required to work at height whilst installing the ceiling panels but this was kept to a minimum.

Overall the building has exceeded expectations in the local community as it has delivered the gallery spaces, which were always part of the brief, but also a key home for many community groups, who have come to love this CLT building as it provides high quality flexible space on a beautiful site in Pinner Memorial Park.

Images courtesy: Tom Fish