BFI Master Film Store, Edward Cullinan Architects, BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores, Warwickshire Architecture, Architects, English Project, News

BFI Master Film Store, England : Building Information

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores Building, Warwickshire, UK – design by Edward Cullinan Architects

28 Jun 2012

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores

Design: Edward Cullinan Architects

RIBA Awards 2012 Citation:

BFI Master Film Store

This building might be described as a Modernist machine for preserving culture. The film stores protect 190,000 canisters of unstable nitrate film, and 240,000 acetate reels at minus 5C, and at a fixed humidity. The archive could have been a simple response to functional imperatives – a serviceable oblong of concrete bunkers equating form with function – but this is more ambitious: a matrix of concrete bunkers clad with corrugated stainless steel; a distinct, characterful piece of architecture.

BFI Master Film Store BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores BFI Master Film Store Building BFI Master Film Store Warwickshire
photographs : Edmund Sumner

In plan, elevations and material detailing, the Archive’s design draws from both a stripped down industrial modernism, yet also radiates a very particular kind of 21st century finesse and environmental efficiency.

The Archive, said to be technically superior to its US counterpart, is exemplary in both architectural and cultural terms.

BFI Master Film Store – RIBA Awards winner, 2012

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores – Building Information

Location: Confidential location
Architect: Edward Cullinan Architects
Client: British Film Institute
Contractor: Gilbert Ash (NI) Ltd
Structural Engineer: Curtins Consulting
Services Engineer: Couch Perry & Wilkes
Contract Value: £9 million
Date of completion: Sep 2011
Gross internal area: 2,900 sqm

Chair of Jury: Pierre Wassenaar
Regional representative: Kevin Singh
Lay assessor: Jay Merrick

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Store images / information from RIBA

1 Sep 2011

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores

Design: Edward Cullinan Architects

BFI Master Film Store

Project Description

This pioneering new Master Film Store will preserve the British Film Institute’s (BFI) master film collections of nitrate and acetate film. When complete, the building will be the first of its kind to store large quantities of film, over 450,000 canisters, in optimal environmental conditions.

The building is the result of intense research and collaboration between the architect, engineers, film experts and the BFI to define the best solution for storing this large collection of film, sustainably, for the next 50 years and beyond. The vaults will keep the film in cold and dry conditions of -5ºC at 35% relative humidity, while the fabric and services enable this environment to be maintained in an energy efficient way.

BFI Master Film Store BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores BFI Master Film Store Building BFI Master Film Store Warwickshire
photographs : Edmund Sumner

Although the building form is quite simple, consisting of 30 identical cellular vaults for nitrate film and 6 vaults for acetate film, the specification required an extremely low air leakage rate of 0.3m3/hr at 50 Pascals to maximise performance.

Rigorous analysis, detailing and quality control has been carried out to ensure the building will provide the sub-zero temperature, low humidity and fire prevention that the film requires for its preservation.

The building will achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

Introduction

This autumn, the British Film Institute (BFI) will reach a major milestone in their long history of preserving the nation’s film heritage. A pioneering new building will be complete and ready to house the BFI’s entire master collection of acetate and nitrate film in closely controlled environmental conditions ideal for the long term protection of this priceless and vulnerable material.

The Project has been realised through the Screen Heritage UK (SHUK) programme, a nationwide initiative funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. One of its key objectives is to prevent the deterioration and loss of the nation’s films so that they can be made accessible now and in the future. The BFI cares for the most significant film collection in the world. It represents the history of the moving image in Britain from pre-cinema through to the present day. The collection is currently stored over two sites; the new building will consolidate the collection into their existing site in Warwickshire.

The building is designed by Edward Cullinan Architects who led a detailed feasibility study which concluded that the BFI’s existing archive buildings could not be suitably upgraded, and that a new ‘sub-zero’ storage facility large enough to house all master acetate and nitrate material should be constructed at the earliest opportunity.

The final technical solution is the result of intense research and collaboration between the architect, engineers, film experts and the BFI to define the best method for storing such a large collection of film sustainably for the next 50 years and beyond.

At just under 3000m², the new vaults will store up to 460,000 canisters of film in conditions of -5°C at 35% relative humidity, while the construction enables the building to sustain these conditions in an energy efficient way.

Pre-cast concrete panels provide the thermal mass required to limit temperature fluctuations. Although the building form is quite simple, consisting of 30 identical cellular vaults for nitrate and 6 vaults for acetate film, the specification requires extremely low air leakage rate and must withstand intense heat in the unlikely event of a nitrate film fire. Rigorous analysis, detailing, quality control and testing has been carried out to ensure the building will provide the sub–zero temperature, low humidity and fire prevention that the film requires for its preservation.

When complete, the building will be the first of its kind to store large quantities of film in such cold and dry conditions; it will also achieve a BREEAM Rating of ‘Excellent’ for its sustainable features.

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores – Building Information

Design Team Appointed: Jul 2009
Construction period commenced: Oct 2010
Construction Cost: £9 million
Cost per m2: £3,000
Planning approved: Jun 2010
Target Completion Date: Dec 2011

British Film Institute (BFI) Master Film Store – Team

Client: BFI Sarah-Jane Lucas (BFI Strategic Projects); Peter Watson

Architect: Edward Cullinan Architects
Carol Costello (Project Director)
David Leggett (Project Architect)
Ted Cullinan, Tim Francis, Brendan Sexton, Lucy Spencer

Structural Engineer: Curtins Consulting
Services Engineer: Couch Perry & Wilkes
Project Manager: Buro Four
Quantity surveyor: W H Stephens
CDM Coordinator: Arcadis
Main contractor: Gilbert Ash NI

BFI Acetate & Nitrate Film Stores images / information from Edward Cullinan Architects

Edward Cullinan Architects

AIA UK Excellence in Design Awards : Commendation. 20 Apr 2012


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