Seacity Museum, Southampton

Project details
Town: Southampton

Forming the focal point of Southampton’s recently launched “Cultural Quarter” is The SeaCity Museum housing “Southampton’s Titanic Story” and their “Gateway to the World” exhibition detailing the city’s 2,000 year history of emigration and immigration.

The Museum officially opened 100 years to the day that the RMS Titanic departed from Southampton’s Docks – the “Titanic Story” focuses on the 897 crew, 714 of whom came from Southampton of which 538 lost their lives, leading to one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

The Museum also features an exhibition dedicated to Cunard’s Queen Mary, including a 26’ one tonne scale model of the liner.  The Queen Mary’s maiden voyage in 1936 also departed from Southampton, bound for New York. She regularly completed this route in a record breaking 5 days, famously winning the Blue Riband for fastest North Atlantic crossings.

The Museum occupies a two-storey Grade II listed building, originally designed in the early 1930’s to accommodate the city’s police station, cells and Magistrates’ Courts.

Many of the building’s original Art Deco-influenced features have been retained and, in many cases, actually incorporated into the Museum. One of the most impressive examples is the use of the original courtroom which is used to recreate the London Court of Inquiry which was subsequently held into the disaster. 

The energy efficiency of the building was poor and needed to be improved.  Both English Heritage and the Council’s Conservation Team required the original single glazed windows to be retained and these were carefully overhauled and repaired. Selectaglaze’s secondary glazing was considered to be an appropriate adaptation for thermal improvement. In addition to thermal insulation, the gallery spaces also needed sound attenuation and blackout facilities as many of these rooms rely heavily on AV presentations which would be unduly affected by intrusive noise and light.

Selectaglaze designed a range of slim line sliding and removable panels. In the gallery spaces a special laminated glass has been specified with a black interlayer, thus avoiding the need for additional black-out blinds. Other windows were glazed with toughened low emissivity glass to provide the best thermal insulation.

Selectaglaze systems glazed with low emissivity glass can reduce the u-value of a single glazed metal window from 5.7 to less than 2.0, a more than 60% improvement. Laboratory tests also demonstrate that a sound level reduction of 45dB is possible. The results are achieved through tightly engineered systems, high performance seals and, for noise insulation, an air gap between the windows of 100mm or more.