The Paper Store is pioneering a bold, low-carbon design solution that uses world-leading air-tightness to rethink contemporary preservation and archiving. All from a historic WW2 airfield in rural Cambridgeshire.
Home to 50,000 priceless paper artefacts that tell the story of 20th-century conflict and humanity – from the Nuremberg Trial transcripts to soldiers' letters – the brief was to develop a design that would safeguard the collection for generations to come.
By embedding principles of fabric-first design from the outset, and collaborating with energy consultants, Architype created a passive system that eliminated the risk and expense of complex ventilation and humidity control – and replaced it with a radically simple control strategy that delivers temperature stability and world-leading airtightness in-use, and drastically reduced running costs at a time when museum budgets are being squeezed tighter than ever.
The building uses 90 percent less energy than an equivalent archive of its size, and 75 percent less than any other IWM building. It was completed for less than £2,000/m2 and £205/linear metre - £169 less than Arts Council England archive benchmarks. It is expected to return on investment in just ten years.
A super-insulated frame, cost-effective blockwork and an internal airtightness layer form the store, and combine to produce just 0.03 air changes/hour. Floor insulation is eliminated, allowing ground-coupling to stabilise annual temperatures at 12-14 degrees. The building uses so little energy it can run through a domestic electric supply, with a central air duct simplifying services and controls, and providing a positively pressurised environment for researchers and archivists. The easily-expandable building is expected to perform well beyond its 100-year life, further reducing cost and carbon impact.
The facades are formed by 100 Corten panels, each representing a year of the collection within, and through their perforations, that years’ relative war and peacetime.