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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoƫ Colbeck

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Sliding Doors

The heart-stopping moment when a door was launched into the air. NTPL/Lucy Alfred

Like the plot of their cinematic namesake, the tale of our bespoke, triple glazed, sliding doors by Vitrosca has not been straightforward. Although, after two dramatic and failed attempts they have now been installed in the exhibition space of the stable yard.

Two weeks ago we excitedly rushed out to watch them being installed, only to discover that the suction pads used to install them weren’t working on the first machine and the second one was the wrong design for the job. Our hearts were in our mouths when they removed the suction pads on the second attempt as the whole door wobbled from end to end like one of Rolf Harris’s “wobble boards”! The door escaped damage free because, as we were later assured, it can withstand harder wear than that.

This week the ‘third time lucky’ mantra came into full force as the seven doors were painstakingly and expertly manoeuvred by the team who lifted, twisted and inched the doors into place. There were some heart stopping moments such as when the crane lifted two of the doors several metres into the air, but as the experts seemed pretty relaxed we swallowed our panic and busied ourselves with taking photos of the process!

Coming all the way from Portugal the doors are fairly unique in the UK as triple glazing is much more popular in mainland Europe. The energy efficient panels are filled with viscous argon gas which separates the three panes in each sliding door. Argon is used rather than air as it is a much denser gas, making it a poor conductor of heat, meaning greater insulation. During the winter the doors will form as airtight a seal as possible, keeping heat inside the exhibition space, while allowing a comfortable stream of air in the summer months when they can be slid open.

All we have to do now is decide upon the design of the transfers that will go onto the doors, to remind wildlife (and people!) that they are in fact solid glass doors and not open spaces!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Busy Bees

The bees are given a new home. NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst

The stall partitions are put back in place. NTPL/Jon Whitehead

The giant rainwater harvesting tanks. NTPL/Sarah Tebbot

Hi, I’m Caroline and I’ve just taken over as the new Project Coordinator – coordinating the final stages of the building up to its grand opening later in the year!

It’s been a busy and exciting first week. The stable yard looks different every day at the moment, with the builders making the most of all the fine weather. All three sets of solar panels are now shining in the sun, the four giant rainwater harvesting tanks are in place (complete with hand pump for people to pump water into the ladies’ toilets!), the air source heat pump is installed and the original metal stable stall partitions have been put back in place to divide the new craft stalls. Today there’s a big crane filling the stable yard, lifting the triple-glazed glass doors into place for the new exhibition space.

We’ve also had some unexpected visitors to the site one day this week – some bumble bees who decided to make their nest just where the builders wanted to fit the new glass doors. Luckily Wimbledon Beekeepers came to the rescue and moved the bees to a happy new home in a tree in the park.