Royal Museum of the Fine Arts Antwerp

Energy savings through optimal climate control system

A centuries-old building with centuries-old art. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp requires high quality climate conditions for its artworks, so that the collection can continue to be preserved and viewed for centuries to come. Royal HaskoningDHV developed an innovative ventilation concept for this purpose which produces significant energy savings.

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp is housed in a building dating from 1890 and located in a 19th century city expansion. However, the building no longer met the needs of the museum infrastructure and the museum management quality standards. Particular problems were the presence of asbestos, a leaking roof, and inadequate heating and climate conditions. In order to tackle these issues, the museum closed its doors in 2011 for an extensive renovation that is expected to take until 2017 at a cost of € 44 million.

New climate control technology

"We developed a new climate control method called Object Climate Control," says Alex Ockhuysen, Project Manager at Royal HaskoningDHV. "Our sustainable and environmentally friendly solution involves the creation of a carefully climate controlled 'curtain'. The air flows slowly along each side of every painting. This air is colder than the environment, flows down from the ceiling and then adheres to the wall behind each painting."

Benefits of the new technology

According to Ockhuysen, the Object Climate Control System avoids the need to refresh large volumes of air and ensures a constant humidity around the paintings, and an agreeable climate for the visitors. "This new climate control technology means that valuable artworks are preserved, whilst energy consumption is significantly reduced because there is no need to have climate control throughout the whole museum, for example in areas where there are no paintings.

Also, a new exhibition area will be created at the heart of the building, primarily intended for freestanding art objects. Through the interaction of technology with improved insulation and the special roof constructed over this area, direct sunlight cannot affect the artworks and there is minimum energy and heat loss. And lower energy costs."

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