Founded in 1852, The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, with a permanent collection of over 4.5 million priceless, delicate and irreplaceable objects and artifacts ranging from ancient times to the present day; from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa.

In recent years the Museum has benefitted from a major renovation programme. The latest phase is currently being undertaken by Wates Construction and involves the demolition of the old Boiler House Yard buildings to make way for the construction of a new underground exhibition space, a revamped open courtyard with cafe and an improved Museum entrance from the newly landscaped Exhibition Road.

However, before work could commence the Board of Trustees of the V&A commissioned acoustic consultants Bickerdike Allen Partners to conduct a study on the noise and vibration impact of the works to the Grade 2* and Grade 1 Listed offices and galleries bordering the site, which were to remain fully operational throughout the entire build period.

The study concluded that, prior to commencement of these works, it was essential to install acoustic secondary glazing to affected windows in order to provide acceptable working conditions in the offices.

Selectaglaze is the UK’s leading designer of secondary glazing systems with considerable experience of working within Listed and period buildings and has full laboratory test reports for noise attenuation capabilities. The Company was approached by the V&A Estate Office in 2012 to consider possible options and, due to the sensitivity of the project, it was agreed to install samples in two rooms for assessment.

The subsequent specification required the secondary glazing to: “Allow access to the primary windows for general maintenance and ventilation; be sympathetic to the style of existing windows without the introduction of new sightlines; glazing to be at least 6.4mm clear laminated glass” and for the secondary glazing to “achieve a minimum noise reduction of 10dB – over and above the noise reduction provided by the existing windows”.

Based on this brief, and following listed building consent, Selectaglaze was subsequently appointed to build over 60 window frames, in a range of styles. The largest in the Henry Cole Wing were 3.5M high and nearly 2M wide including arched heads. These were treated with heavy duty sash windows coupled to a slim high level, arched fixed panel to ensure a sympathetic match. Each frame is purpose made with high performance seals that not only improve the acoustic insulation but also help reduce the passage of dust and dirt – which is a feature of all building sites. The bespoke frames were fully fabricated off-site, allowing rapid installation and completion ahead of the start of demolition works.

The work has exceeded the Museum’s noise insulation expectations and an added benefit, reported by staff working within the treated areas, is a noticeable improvement in the thermal efficiency of the windows.

Founded in 1966, Royal Warrant holder Selectaglaze’s products are fully tested and assessed for performance and twice yearly quality audits are conducted through the company’s ISO 9001 accreditation with LPCB. An extensive range of literature and guidance notes covering acoustics, thermal performance and added security is offered together with a technical advisory service and a RIBA approved CPD Seminar.

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