Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. 21-02-11
The new 5,000m2 extension to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s historic Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives, designed by Edward Cullinan Architects, is using Bruynzeel Compactus storage systems to maximise storage capacity for Kew’s priceless collection of plant specimens, archives, books and illustrations.
Kew’s Herbarium is an active research centre and its collection of some 8 million preserved plant and fungal specimens are used by scientists researching plants, fungi and their ecosystems. Kew’s Herbarium has to accommodate the 35,000 - 50,000 new specimens that are brought back or sent to Kew every year by botanists from their expeditions around the world.
Linking the climate-controlled archive to the naturally lit research spaces was a key concept for the building so that the scientists could work in close proximity to the collection. The new wing is connected to the existing Herbarium by a timber and glass drum incorporating the stairs and a reading room.
Bruynzeel installed Compactus mobile storage systems in six large rooms within the new extension, with all of the running rails installed in the concrete floor during construction. The system has a positive centre drive that enables multiple units to be moved from one handle, which has pleased archivist Kiri Ross-Jones. A window into one of the rooms allows a view of the artwork and storage facility from the public reading room. A similar Bruynzeel system in the rare books room houses the earliest printed book in the collection from 1485, “Ortus Sanitatis” (the Origin of Health).
Collections of information, photographs and a vast range of books and boxes are easily accommodated on Bruynzeel’s mobile shelving sytem in the Archive and Modern Records store. All of the Bruynzeel shelves are height adjustable to accommodate the seven million varying sized records and some of the racks are lockable to restrict access.
Bruynzeel’s Compactus mobile storage was also installed in the three rooms that house the Herbarium specimens. Plant samples are freeze dried for four days at minus 40°C before being boxed, catalogued and placed on the Bruynzeel shelves. With two teams, preparing 400 boxes of specimens a week, it will take a year to complete the work.
Commenting on the installation Christopher Mills, Head of Library, Art and Archives said: “The Bruynzeel mobile storage units are attractive and clean looking. It is great to have a system that is flexible. Making adjustments for the diverse collection of books and illustrations we have is very easy and it is very important to us that there is a guarantee that the shelving will be available for at least the next 10 years.”
Bruynzeel’s Compactus range is designed to optimise the storage capacity of any given area. Consisting of double-sided shelving units mounted on carriages that run on floor rails, it compresses the footprint of a storage area by having only one “floating” aisle instead of a series of fixed aisles. Bruynzeel offers individually designed systems for each customer, with Compactus shelving systems available in a range of colours.