The V&A holds one of the most important collections of textiles and fashion in the world, ranging from archaeological textiles to contemporary haute couture.
The Brief: The project brief was to assist in the design of a mobile storage system, located within three allocated areas, to house over 104,000 objects ranging from small archaeological textile fragments from Egypt to enormous tapestries created for medieval European palaces. This also included everything from the latest creations by leading contemporary designers to hoop petticoats from the 1740s.
Rackline, after successfully tendering, were asked to design, manufacture and install a truly bespoke storage solution for the collection. The final layout design incorporated nearly 7000 drawers in six different sizes to house everything from dress fabrics to religious robes, handbags to walking sticks, and embroidery to underwear, 500 linear meters of hanging garment storage, locations for 1280 large rolled textiles up to 6 metres long and twice as many small rolled objects.
One major factor, alongside the uniqueness of the collection, was the limitation of the building. Blythe House, due to the nature of its construction, greatly restricted the overall weight loading that could be applied to the floors within the stores.
The solution required a light weight system to be designed which still needed to have the capability to be almost 4 metres tall, up to 1.6 metres deep and accommodate drawers up to 2 metres wide. The exacting museum specification also meant that the structure needed to be fully clad without impacting too heavily on the weightloading.
Had conventional steel solutions been supplied within the scheme, no objects could have been housed as the weight of the drawers alone would have exceeded the maximum capacity available. To this end, with a large amount of collaboration from the Museum, an extremely light weight aluminium drawer was prototyped which matched all the necessary requirements for housing these precious objects.
Alongside this, the weight of each individual object was mapped onto the drawing, and specific locations were made available for each object type to ensure the storage capacity was maximised according to weight and size.
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