London Science City Gallery is a new permanent gallery situated on the second floor of the Science Museum. Displaying a range of scientific objects and artefacts developed in London over the last 400 years, the gallery covers an area of 658 sq/m and opened to the public in summer 2019. Webb Yates Engineers provided the structural and building services design for the new exhibition.
Part of the structural work was to create semi-transparent steel mesh structural displays. Drawing influence from typical architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries, the structures range in shape, many with duo-pitched tops and stepped fronts. During the design stages, we engaged with specialist fabricators and completed two rounds of prototyping. This process allowed details to be modified to suit the fabrication and installation process, as well as confirming the structural integrity of the bespoke display cases.
The steel mesh structures make up approximately one third of the exhibition structures, with the remaining display cases made out of Valchromat timber. Valchromat house type design has been developed to reduce the number of additional steel connection angles required. All panels are fixed to the stud frame using wood screws only, screwed through the timber studs from the inside.
Other structural works include a support frame for the quadrant feature piece and the removal and replacement of the existing balustrade. The new balustrade is a replica of the original cast iron design.
The principal challenge in the building services design was understanding the existing infrastructure provision and designing new systems to fit within the existing capacity. The services to the existing Energy Gallery, particularly power and data, were stripped out as part of the early work. As well as re-using central infrastructure services, mains cables and distributions boards, new power was provided to the new exhibits and lighting.
As with all Science Museum projects, it was critical the design allowed works to take place without interruption to the Museum’s existing operations.