The redevelopment of Gainsborough’s House in Suffolk required specialist acoustic design to isolate the structure from the vibrations of a nearby silk mill. Regupol Vibration offered a practical solution, but the project was not without its challenges, including a tight site and lockdown restrictions.
Gainsborough’s House is the childhood home of the renowned 18th Century artist Thomas Gainsborough. The house and gardens, which are Grade 1 listed, were purchased by the Gainsborough’s House Society and were first opened to the public in 1961, housing a permanent collection of his work.
Ambitious plans for the redevelopment of the house will transform it into a national centre for art in Suffolk, showcasing the influence of Gainsborough over other famous British landscape artists he inspired such as John Constable and JMW Turner, and acting as catalyst for regeneration of the town of Sudbury.
As part of this project a new three storey wing is under construction next door to Gainsborough’s House, on the site of a former Labour Exchange. The contemporary building with a staggered roofline has been designed by architects and exhibition designers ZMMA. Complementing the existing listed buildings, which are to be upgraded, the project will create the largest gallery in Suffolk housing the widest collection of Gainsborough’s art and the art of those he inspired. The entire project is valued at £9m and construction began in the Autumn of 2019.
Facilities in the new building will include permanent and temporary galleries, a landscape studio with panoramic views over the rooftops of the town and a new café overlooking the 18th Century garden. Whilst contemporary in appearance the extension will incorporate local materials including bricks from the historic Bulmer brickworks just outside the town, and interiors featuring famous Sudbury Silk.
Sudbury has been a major silk manufacturing centre for centuries and five companies still make silk textiles in the town. Vanner’s Silk Mill, directly to the North of the site, has been producing Sudbury Silk for 250 years. However, its proximity to the new gallery is a challenge.
Vibration Isolation for Art Gallery Foundations
Acoustic specialists Sandy Brown identified that the silk factory workings are a source of vibration throughout the surrounding grounds and buildings, which has the potential to interfere with the peace and tranquility of the new building.
To mitigate this risk, respected engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan worked on a series of foundation design incorporating vibration isolation materials, which isolate the new structure from the surrounding ground. The successful design specified the use of Regupol Vibration Solution products, a range of isolation products which can be used to provide a resilient layer within foundations to isolate a building from structure borne vibrations.
CMS Danskin Acoustics are the sole UK distributor of Regupol products. Regupol and Regufoam Vibration product ranges provide a combined 20 different grades of isolation material which can be used in a wide load range between 0.002 N/mm² and 2.5 N/mm². This wide range provides the opportunity to design efficient isolation concepts for even the most challenging vibration scenarios.
The new building has a complex foundation plan with multiple stepped foundations and ground beams, producing three different regions of pressure. Each area required a different combination of material thickness and density to provide the appropriate deflection and natural frequency required. CMS Danskin Acoustics worked with the design team to develop a bespoke acoustic insulation strategy for Gainsborough’s House that was both efficient and effective.
Working under Covid Lockdown
Construction commenced in late 2019 with the demolition of the existing labour exchange where the new galleries were to be built. Principal contractor Thomas Sinden was ready in the spring of 2020 for the installation of the vibration insulation materials by specialist groundworks contractor T Vaughan. The narrow historic streets of Sudbury prevented the use of cranes and all materials had to be delivered by smaller vehicles.
Regupol products are manufactured from recycled aircraft tyres in Germany, and the timing of the project during the first Covid lockdown couldn’t have been worse. However, CMS Danskin Acoustics retain good stock quantities and delivery of the required 1400m2 of rolls and tiles was not delayed by the suspension of travel.
The design of the vibration isolation scheme called for several layers of Regupol Vibration 300, 450 and 480 in varying thicknesses, which were laid and cut over the foundation according to the insulation strategy. Each layer has staggered joints and the entire scheme is then covered with a separation membrane prior to the pouring of the floor slab.
The new galleries at Gainsborough’s House are expected to open to the public in the Spring of 2022, and enjoyment of the spaces will be unaffected by the centuries old industry continuing next door.
Vibration Isolation Services
Vibration Isolation is a specialist skill. The vibration team at CMS Danskin Acoustics have a unique ability to specify and supply anti-vibration and structural isolation solutions. Working with architects, contractors, acoustic consultants, developers and structural engineers, we can provide solutions that meet the requirements of all noise and vibration regulations, whether in the construction or industrial sector.
We can provide
- Early involvement in your project
- Technical recommendations at design stage
- Technical support and submittals
- On-site support, prior, during and after installation.
Client Gainsborough’s House Society
Acoustic Consultant Sandy Brown
Structural Engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan
MEP Engineers Bower Fuller
Groundworks Contractor T Vaughan Limited
Principal Contractor Thomas Sinden