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September 2019

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buffy

brutti_ma_buoni in photo_scavenger

Stairs

2013-09-21 16.00.33

An unassuming set of metal stairs, yes? Well, sorta. But they are part of one of the first ever attempts to build a repository to keep stuff *forever*. It's the first Public Record Office building in the UK, now part of Kings College London library. Most of the original furniture is swept away by the needs of a modern library but they have preserved a couple of corners. Here you can see the building is largely metal in its fittings (metal and slate in the strongrooms, in fact). They were trying to design a fireproof place where the oldest documents in the country could be safe. It's also not solid, full of grilles (including the mezzanine floor where these steps lead): the idea was to avoid creating mould pockets (get that air circulating), and let any dust fall down to the ground where it could be regularly swept up. Dust is a preservation enemy too, in a more subtle way than fire.

We wouldn't do it like this now, but I'm so glad I had the chance to get in to see it last Open House London.

Comments

Thanks for sharing this with us!
Fascinating. It was a pretty good design for the job, really.
I immediately thought 'how unusual' when I saw the picture, but when I read the thinking behind the design, it made real sense. That is fascinating.