The Natural History Museum’s new Darwin Centre is London’s latest iconic project to benefit from the premium performance of Kingspan KoolDuct System of pre-insulated ductwork.
The magnificent eight-storey cocoon shaped structure requires a closely controlled environment in order to provide the constant temperature and humidity necessary to protect the irreplaceable three million plant and 17 million insect specimens. A primary concern regarding the air distribution system was that if any pests were to find their way into the collections areas from outside, traditional ductwork would provide an ideal place for them to hide, procreate and potentially multiply out of control causing irreparable damage to the specimens.
To address this issue, three-sided ductwork sections incorporating an internal support structure were fabricated offsite using 1200m2 of rigid phenolic insulation. Combined with the white powder coated steel finish this unusual construction provided an unobtrusive seamless solution that could be bolted flush to the ceiling, eliminating the presence of any grooves where insects could conceal themselves.
Greg Byrne, Associate Director of international building consultancy Fulcrum Consulting, the specifying engineers for the project, commented: “Due to the museum’s integrated pest management requirements and following a number of meetings and workshops with Kingspan Insulation, we decided that the KoolDuct System would provide the best solution for this particular project.”
Compared with heavy traditional sheet metal systems, which require a second step in the installation process to both vapour seal and thermally insulate the ductwork, KoolDuct offers a lightweight and versatile ductwork system that can be installed in a single fix. Darren O’Donnell of RDS, fabricator / installer for the project, found that this not only makes it a high-speed operation for projects on which time is critical, but also provides an advantage in confined spaces.
The rigid phenolic insulation panels used in the fabrication of the System have a closed cell structure, which makes them non-wicking and highly resistant to moisture penetration – a suitable option for high relative humidity ambient conditions. In addition, the airstream flows over aluminium surfaces and has no contact with a material that produces loose fibres, making the Kingspan KoolDuct System ideal for high specification projects.
Rigid phenolic insulation also offers excellent fire resistance with negligible smoke emissions making it a great choice of insulation material to meet the stringent safety requirements for public buildings such as the Darwin Centre.