Passivhaus principles applied to deep storage facility
RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA East Award winner 2021
Sustainability Award (sponsored by Michelmersh)
Architype for Imperial War Museums
Contract value: undisclosed
Clad in weathering steel, the new archive building at Imperial War Museum Duxford nestles among the collection of important facilities that make up the Duxford Airfield conservation area. Sitting peacefully at the rear of the site, it creates a place for contemplation for those that have donated archival material.
A simple but flexible plan allows future expansion without compromising the building layout. Its minimal form creates a sculptural object in itself, and is in line with its sustainability credentials, ensuring that heat losses are minimised from additional corners and junctions. Cladding panels, one for each year since 1914, are punched to reflect the volume of storage in any given year; those of high conflict are heavily perforated. This building, made with low embodied carbon materials, also achieves the additional fire safety performance required for such an important archive. Super insulation and passive design create stable internal temperatures and relative humidity without expensive mechanical systems.
The client deserves high praise for both testing the standard approach for archive design and for trusting the architect to develop the brief and manage the process through to successful completion. The predicted performance of the building is exemplary, with its final primary energy much lower than standard specification archive buildings, as well as lower than the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge figures for operational energy, and embodied carbon.
Together, architect and client have achieved an archival facility that both creates an emotional response and is a blueprint for sustainable performance.