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Shedding new light on museums and galleries

22 Apr 2016

A trip to the museum isn’t always as enlightening as it might be. Whilst the exhibits seldom cease to intrigue and amaze, too often the visitor experience falls short of dazzling due to a lack of natural light in the building itself.
The importance of natural daylight in buildings should never be underestimated. It can help revitalise historical and cultural institutions reliant upon visitor numbers. Even on the gloomiest of days a well-designed rooflight system can shower large, traditional structures in rays, helping reduce costs and provide an attractive, welcoming internal environment.
Specifying the correct lighting solutions for museums can be a challenge, but it is one which needs addressing to avoid a decrease in footfall at galleries nationwide. The Museum Association has reinforced the view that the presence of daylight offers psychological benefits to visitors. Gallery staff are also said to reap reward from natural rays in the form of higher productivity when exposed to daylight.

The Lonsdale Metal Company designs, manufactures and supplies patent glazing and rooflights which introduce natural daylight and provide the perfect backdrop for any public space.
Blending the old and the new
Glass offers the rooflight specifier a welter of options in terms of performance, function and aesthetics. With a huge range of rooflights and rooflight systems available in today's marketplace, each specification can be designed to suit different building types – from Victorian museums to modern exhibition spaces.

With a market-leading range of patent glazing and rooflights, Lonsdale offers a variety of solutions that are designed to meet traditional aesthetic demands, stringent planning restrictions and contemporary Building Regulations. From their SpanGard self-supporting aluminium lanterns and skylights to the neat box bar design of ThermGard thermal glazing bars – Lonsdale has the expertise to determine the very best, high performance specification and glass combinations for every heritage project.
History in the making
First opened in 1873, the Cast Courts at the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum house some of its most well-known and largest casts of European sculpture – including Michelangelo's David. When the barrel rooflight that runs the length of the gallery showed signs of failure, Lonsdale Metal Company supplied its SpanGard self-supporting rooflight system to bring this historical building into the 21st century.
Arrange as two double-height and day-lit courts, the Cast Courts have been subject to extensive reorganisation and redecoration during their 140 year history. When a survey revealed that the single-glazed rooflight was contributing to heat build-up, and many of its panes were cracked, a replacement was required as part of the Museum’s 'FuturePlan’ programme to transform and modernise the V&A.
Appointed to carry out the full gallery refurbishment whilst the sculptures and artworks remained in-situ, main contractor Coniston turned to the design and installation expertise of Roofglaze for the replacement of the 700m2 tiered vaulted roof – situated 24 metres above the gallery floor.
Featuring a five-tiered barrel vault layout, dual-pitch lantern at the apex and vertical glazed infills, the project’s design team developed an architecturally-sympathetic rooflight system. Combining traditional aesthetics with modern manufacturing standards, Lonsdale’s aluminium SpanGard self-supporting rooflight system provided the duo-pitch roof lantern at the ridge with vertical glazing at the sides. The subsequent lower tiers, feature ThermGard patent glazing bars replicating the original layout and fixing details.
All sloped surfaces were double glazed, hermetically sealed units incorporating high performance 6mm solar controlled toughened glazing outer panes and 6.8mm inner panes. The vertical glazed elements were specified as 4mm thick clear toughened soft coat Low-E glass.
Pre-built in Lonsdale’s factory, each SpanGard rooflight is delivered fully fabricated and ready for immediate installation on site. Ensuring the Roofglaze installation could complete the complex and challenging project on schedule, the system’s slim and elegant box-rafter design also proved perfect for the application’s demand for top quality aesthetics.
An exhibition in rooflights
When a traditional aesthetic is the requirement, a correctly designed and specified rooflight system can meet the client’s demands whilst helping to create a warm and welcoming environment.  With a price tag in line with modern construction methods and an appearance that blends the past with the present, Lonsdale’s range of advanced patent glazing, rooflights and glass roof panels offer a perfect solution at museums and galleries.
With an array of rooflights and glass types, Lonsdale rooflights now feature on some of the UK’s most historic and important buildings. Showing that natural light can improve the atmosphere and aesthetics of an internal environment, Lonsdale has become an increasingly popular specification in museums, galleries and exhibition spaces and has helped the company to create an impressive portfolio of heritage projects.

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