Coffey Architects have completed the new Science Museum Dana Research Centre, part of an ongoing plan to redevelop the entire campus. The Centre was launched on 31 March at its inaugural conference celebrating the Museum’s research community.
The new Centre occupies two floors of the museum’s Wellcome Wolfson Building and a calm, light-filled environment has been created within thanks to thousands of tiny openings in the canopy above the main reading room, allowing the space to be suffused with a warm glow. The dappled light effect was inspired by the contemplative conditions that might have been experienced by Isaac Newton while he sat under the apple tree. This double-height canopy also filters sound, as well as views to the landscape outside. Timber-lined bookshelves, walls and desks ensure that researchers can work in a naturally warm and welcoming setting.
The central reading room houses the main library activities, with a staircase providing access to the bright upper mezzanine with common room and staff areas above while below a timber-lined research bar and private study areas are located amongst the main bookstacks. Acting as a portal to over 500,000 items contained within the Wroughton Library, the new centre puts archive collections and original works at the fingertips of researchers, staff, academics and the general public.
Practice director Phil Coffey said: “The scheme itself is a simple idea to recreate the feeling of sitting under a tree, on a summer’s day, reading a book. The canopy creates light and acoustic conditions conducive for study, as well as offering a unique space with a strong identity to be enjoyed by both casual and academic users.”
Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said: “We are thrilled to be opening the new Dana Research Centre and Library. As well as opening the Centre this year, our commitment to research has also seen us introduce support for 24 collaborative doctoral students, create a new e-journal and support research projects into the history of science and technology.”
Nick Wyatt, Head of Library & Archives, said: “This fantastic new Centre offers free public access to world-class library and archive collections for science and engineering, as well as providing flexible space for the Museum’s doctoral candidates and researchers to work alongside our amazing collection on a day to day basis. We took our inspiration for the design from the gentle dappled light created when reading a book under a tree in the summer, and we hope the new light-filled space will encourage and stimulate future learning.”
The library is the first part of a major campus overhaul to complete, with new galleries and improved connections set to reviatlise the museum up until 2019.
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