Roofglaze at the V&A


V&A Porter Gallery

V&A Porter Gallery

V&A Porter Gallery

As a Grade 1 listed building with millions of visitors a year, the V&A Museum Kensington, London is a site of significant heritage architecture. The museum is part way through an ambitious development programme. Rooflglaze describe the projects below.

Replacement roofs at The V&A Museum
As a Grade 1 listed building with millions of visitors a year, the V&A Museum Kensington, London is a site of significant heritage architecture. On a site covering over 12.5 acres with 145 galleries it’s the world’s leading museum of art and design, holding collections spanning over 5,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium. Originally known as the South Kensington Museum, it was re-named the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899 when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone to the new red brick and stone facade. It now boasts some of the finest Victorian Buildings in Britain.

The museum is part way through an ambitious development programme. Over 85% of the museum’s public spaces have been transformed, improving both access and the display experience for visitors.

Working in conjunction with Facade Engineering and glass experts Eckersley O’Callaghan, Roofglaze was contracted by Coniston Construction to design and install a replacement glazed barrel vault roof for the museum’s iconic Cast Court 46B. It was to span the vast exhibition space 25 metres below and provide the galleries with a sustainable, thermallycontrolled environment appropriate for visitors and exhibits alike.

The Heritage Context
The Cast Courts, opened to the public in 1873, consist of two glazed sculpture galleries and are home to more than 60 of the finest 19th-century reproductions of Italian  Renaissance monuments. For the Victorian public, these casts provided a fascinating insight into the skills of Renaissance sculptors.

Cast Court 46B houses one of the earliest and most  famous casts is of Michelangelo’s David, constructed by the Florentine cast-maker Clemente Papi in the 1850s. It’s more than five metres tall and was created from hundreds of sections of plaster mould taken directly from the original.

The Problem
The existing 1970s single-glazed laminated glass roof had begun to fail. There was corrosion in the Georgian wired glass and the Courts suffered from both water ingress, heat loss and over-heating. Access to clean the existing roof was problematic and the galleries below had poor light quality as a result.

Design Solutions
Roofglaze proposed a replacement patent glazing system sympathetic to the existing glazing bar design. The Museum’s Estate team took time to explore options, considering both single and double glazing. There was engagement with local authority conservation officer and conservation partners, and engineers had to check that the building had the structural  integrity to support a double-glazing design. Roofglaze was able to supply glazing samples featuring remodelled bars and brackets well in advance.

Over 700m² of new roof glazing was specified to replicate the existing barrel vault layout of the roof and provides the necessary insulation to maintain the optimum environment for the extraordinary exhibits below.

The five-tiered barrel vault layout has a dual-pitch lantern at the apex with vertical glazed infills.

It is constructed from an aluminium framed, thermally enhanced, self-supporting rooflight system, SpanGard, manufactured by the Lonsdale Metal Company.

• ThermGard patent glazing bars and aluminium presswork polyester powdercoated in Iron Grey (RAL 7011) for an appropriate finish with long term weatherability

• Double-glazed, hermetically sealed units with high  performance 6mm 70/37 solar controlled heat soaked tested toughened glazing outer panes and 6.8mm inner panes for all sloped surfaces

• 4mm thick clear toughened soft coat Low-E glass for vertical glazing

• Box rafter construction with invisible fixings and a low-profile appearance

There were significant constraints. Many of the enormous sculptures remained in situ during installation. A temporary ceiling was erected to protect the priceless collection.

Access planning with the Estate team was essential. The Museum is open 7 days a week with staff on site from 7am and corporate events until midnight most evenings. As contractors we had to be very responsive to unforeseen events, even unannounced royal visits. The project demanded teamwork and effective communication in order to meet deadlines.

Our choice of type of roof construction meant we were able to keep on-site time to a minimum, completing this complex and demanding project well within schedule.

Roofglaze has a secure manufacturer supply chain to minimise delay and ensure the speedy replacement of matching glass or components. As with any major construction project damages can occur and Roofglaze ensures panes can be swapped out immediately.


Cast Court 46A
Following the transformation of Cast Court 46B, the next project for the V&A Museum was the adjacent Cast Court 46A.

Roofglaze were appointed by specialist heritage main contractor, Sykes & Son Ltd to undertake this phase.

The project was delivered on time and within budget. Gone is the tired gloomy glazing - and the buckets to catch the leaks! There are now safety systems for maintenance crews responsible for the regular cleaning of the glazed roof. Above all, this beautiful, iconic heritage space is flooded with natural light, allowing visitors to experience its exhibits with the awe and wonder they deserve.

• Improved visitor experience
• Improved aesthetics
• Solar control
• Improved U values
• Weathertightness

Heat loss and over-heating have been minimised. All  internal lighting has been replaced with LEDS, not only  reducing energy costs but delivering benefits to the  sustainability of the whole maintenance cycle - fewer lightbulb changes required, fewer deliveries, less packaging.
The new roof effectively supports the V&A’s operational building performance targets, showing how its buildings can be adapted to safeguard its environments, people and objects and ensure they are fit for future climate scenarios.

The Cast Courts have now been returned to their original splendour and magnificence, and we are extremely proud of our delivery and service to the V&A.

The Porter Gallery
Continuing the V&A programme of renewal and revitalisation, Roofglaze has undertaken the replacement of three more gallery glazed roofs, working for the Heritage Division of Main Contractor, Quinn London.

The glazed roof of the Porter Gallery was in such dire condition it had to be protected with a giant tarpaulin. Repair rather than replacement was explored as an option, but as in other projects it was found to have come to the end of its useful life. Surrounded by full height hoarding and with the space below protected by a temporary roof, the original glazed roof was stripped and replaced. All works were completed within a tight timeframe as the museum stayed open for the duration of the project.

The National Art Library
The National Art Library houses some of the most priceless books on the planet. Its historic and elegant reading rooms are a jewel of the V&A and home to an unrivalled collection of literature on decorative and fine arts. Its glass roof, installed in 1881, was designed to bring as much natural light as possible to the readers below. It now has a beautiful, thermally efficient glazed roof and casement windows.

The Young V&A, Bethnal Green
As part of the V&A’s renovation and reimagining of the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, Roofglaze reinstated functioning rooflights to its barrel-vaulted roofs. The original roof trusses and cladding profile are now revealed and appreciated.

The new rooflights illuminate the Main Hall and its more open, exciting and immersive galleries. No longer a dark and cold place, the museum is soon to open as a refreshed
free-to-access collection to inspire its young visitors.

This cast iron building was originally erected on the site of the main V&A Museum and nicknamed the ‘Brompton Boilers’. After 10 years it was dismantled, moved east to Bethnal Green, re-erected, clad in brick and opened in 1872 as the Bethnal Green Museum. Over the last 150 years the museum has consistently evolved - in its name, contents and design. It’s now restored and equipped for a sustainable future role as part of London’s unique heritage landscape.

The Young V&A Museum is scheduled to re-open to the public in summer 2023.

Roofglaze Limited have extensive experience of working on landmark Grade I and Grade II heritage projects,  including world famous museums, royal palaces, and national institutions.

We have been trading since 1999, which has provided us with a wealth of experience across the business in the design, manufacture of Rooflights and Roof Glazing Systems.

We take pride in the professional technical advice that we can offer our customers; our very experienced team of estimators, designers and technical salespeople are truly committed to supplying you with the very best rooflight, skylight or roof glazing system to suit the specific requirements for your Commercial project.

In addition to patent glazing systems with glazing bars, Roofglaze Limited are market leaders in the manufacture and installation of contemporary flat glass rooflights.

Our Skyway Flatglass rooflights are designed and manufactured in Cambridgeshire using state-of-the-art CAD techniques and automated CNC machining.

Our appeal to architects and clients is our ability to customise Skyway flatglass rooflights to meet bespoke project requirements, with virtually unlimited size and specification constraints. CWCT TN66 & TN67 Class 1 non-fragile Single pane Skyway Flatglass rooflights can be manufactured up to 7.29m2 in size.

Skyway Flatglass rooflights allow architects and specifiers to blend contemporary design into period listed buildings and have been recently supplied and installed on landmark heritage projects including The Old War Office in London, Gainsborough House in Sudbury, Sheerness Dockyard Church, and the award-winning Manchester Jewish Museum.

We work across the UK, as a specialist sub-contractor working for main contractors.

01480 226 075

Roofglaze Limited
11 Howard Road, , Eaton Socon St Neots, Cambridgeshire, PE19 8ET

Download our Roofglaze  at the V&A brochure here




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