The Imperial War Museum, London

Project: The Imperial War Museum, London

The Imperial War Museum, London, has undergone a £40 million transformation, and reopened with impressive exhibition areas including the ground-breaking First World War galleries. Around 3,600m² Heradesign ceilings from Knauf AMF are installed in these spaces. The exhibition galleries, spanning four floors, wrap around a visually-striking atrium, which allows natural light to flood in. Architects, Foster and Partners designed the overall concept.

The redesign posed a number of acoustic and installation challenges. With many more exhibits on display than ever before, the IWM wanted to ensure visitors focus on these and not the exposed services in the ceiling. Unwanted noise, which was likely to build up in the open spaces, was another potential distraction to overcome.

Refurbishment specialist, ITC Concepts chose Heradesign to solve these demanding requirements. Clive Semark, Internal Finishings Manager, explains why:

“We wanted a monolithic ceiling with acoustic qualities and a tough finish suited to the large exhibition areas. Heradesign was a perfect fit. The finished ceilings look excellent.”

Knauf AMF worked closely with ITC Concepts and executive architects Wilson Mason LLP, to help them achieve their aims. Wilson Mason LLP was impressed by the level of support they received.

The Knauf AMF specification team provided advice on how Heradesign could fulfil the museum’s performance requirements, and developed site-specific technical details to meet the challenges of the design intent.

Heradesign products are manufactured from sustainably sourced wood-wool. The panels are robust and easy to install. For the museum, the panels were mechanically fixed onto the existing concrete substrate and fitted around the many exposed services.

The textured surface of the ceiling was factory-finished in black to disguise the services and create a uniform finish that blends into the background. The matt black of the Heradesign surface is non-reflective. Unlike a white ceiling, it will not reflect light onto the glass exhibition cases and multimedia screens, allowing these to be seen without glare.

The museum had the potential to be a very noisy place. The shops, café and upper floor galleries open onto the large atrium. Noise generated from the high number of visitors, would create a disturbing echo effect due to sound bouncing off the many hard surfaces. Other audible distractions come from the curated tours and the interactive displays. Heradesign has Class A sound absorption which reduces the level of reverberation coming in from the glass atrium, and absorbs unwanted background noise in the galleries and public areas, maintaining a comfortable acoustic level for visitors.

Contact Knauf AMF for advice on how Heradesign can help overcome challenging aspects of your interior design and create the look you want visit www.amfceilings.co.uk or email conte.sacha@knaufamf.co.uk for a Heradesign brochure sent to your inbox.