MCA The Rocks

MCA The Rocks from Proctor Group Australia

By: Proctor Group Australia  28-Nov-2012
Keywords: Breathable Membranes

Project: Museum of Contemporary Art The Rocks, Sydney Architect: Sam Marshall in partnership with NSW Government Architect Membrane: ProctorWrap Air Tight (AT) Application: MCA Redevelopment Commencing in 2010, a mammoth A$53 million redevelopment of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)located in The Rocks Sydney will see it reopen in 2012 as a bold, new and significantly expanded Museum. The redevelopment will create an additional 4,500m² exhibition space, increasing the MCA’s total size by almost 50%. In addition to building three spacious new galleries, the redevelopment programme will include a complete refurbishment of existing facilities. The avoidance of interstitial condensation forming in high humidity buildings such as museums and art galleries requires careful consideration at the design stage on the correct use of closed cell thermal insulation, vapour control layers and breathable membranes that will effectively allow the building to breathe. Unfortunately too many designers are getting this detail dreadfully wrong. Trying to rectify a condensation problem once it has been identified can be extremely expensive especially with porous insulation like glasswool and EPS - as recently experienced by several prominent, award winning galleries throughout Australia. Here is the problem. Museums, in order to maintain required levels of humidity and temperature, are designed to be air tight. This is difficult to achieve in practice. Continuous thermal insulation with a high material R-value is needed to keep internal surfaces above dew point thus reducing surface condensation risk. However, unless the insulation functions as a continuous vapour barrier, the moisture laden warm air finds an escape path into the walls and roof space and condenses on cold impermeable surfaces. This causes problems such as corrosion of ferrous metals, rotting timber, mould formation and loss of insulation performance due to saturation of insulation from condensate. Even phenolic rigid insulation such as Kingspan Kooltherm has some porosity and needs to stay dry to maintain long term R-values. At the MCA, the high water vapour permeability of ProctorWrap AT allows for the escape of water vapour from within the building whilst performing as a sarking in restricting the ingress of external moisture ensuring a healthy building for both occupants and exhibits. The installation of Proctor Wrap AT in the vented rainscreen application was unique in being able to offer the required airtight and watertight layer behind the GRC façade panels without trapping moisture in the wall.

Keywords: Breathable Membranes

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