The garden roof in the centre of the Museum of London is one of the oldest installed in London and has been in situ since 1976 when the building was first created on historic London Wall, a few minutes walk north of St Paul’s Cathedral. Its refurbishment was part of a £20.5 million redevelopment of the museum’s lower Galleries of Modern London which retell the story of London and Londoners from 1666 to the present day.
The garden court roof, situated alongside the museum’s Sackler Hall, has now been refurbished and brought into the 21st century with a versatile waterproofing solution that allows the museum to change the emphasis of the landscape design to fit in with any feature display that is taking place in the surrounding galleries if required.
In order for the roof to take shape and refurbishment work to begin, 360 tonnes of soil had to be dug out by hand and removed by wheelbarrow through the museum. Craning of equipment or construction materials was vetoed because of the museum’s location, degree of adjacent offices and its neighbouring community of domestic residents.
The original asphalt roof covering was also removed to expose the concrete deck construction. A major issue for the new waterproofing was the perimeter detailing where the waterproofing had to meet the abutted glazing. This was overcome with using a cold liquid applied waterproofing which is compatible with the new root resistant elastomeric bitumen membrane system installed to the main deck area.
Many of the original garden features were retained for use at other locations around the museum or used again in the creation of the current contemporary design. Large granite and terracotta planters were re-potted with plants to support the new fully inhabited and functional beehive, which has been installed as part of the City of London Festival. All of which can be used as an educational resource for visiting school groups who can learn about how both green roofs and bees benefit the environment.
All works to the roof had to take place with the museum remaining open throughout so a co-ordinated approach between the museum, their project manager Gavin McCourt MRICS, the roofing contractor, Russell Trew Ltd and the waterproofing manufacturer, Bauder Ltd was essential to the success of the installation.
The spectacular Galleries of Modern London are now open to the public and are a real testament to how interactive and advanced a museum can be. Additionally, the museum, as part of its sustainability plan, is looking to refurbish the remaining roofs on the main building, so that there will be a large proportion of differing green roofs, including biodiversity and native species plug planted.
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