Famously raised from the sea bed before a worldwide television audience of 60 million in 1982, the Tudor warship Mary Rose has been undergoing an heroic conservation process in a temporary museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. With the help of a £21m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, a purpose-built museum is being constructed in a Dockyard dry dock, itself a scheduled ancient monument. Our engineers worked on the detailed design of the M&E aspects of the hull's conservation, and our ongoing close involvement includes structural, building services and civil engineering for the new museum.
The Mary Rose is the only sixteenth century warship on display anywhere in the world. Her construction was ordered by Henry VIII and she sank in the Solent in 1545. In the temporary museum, it has only been possible to display 6% of the 19,000-odd artefacts found with the hull. The new museum, which is elliptical in plan, with the hull at the centre, has artefact galleries running the length of the ship. A 'virtual' hull — a mirror image of the real one — provides a viewing platform for the conserved section and artefact display spaces. Additional galleries and an immersive theatre complete the Tudor experience.
Hull conservation work is an ongoing process and must reliably continue during and after the museum's construction. Another challenge is that the museum's environments must protect the ship and its artefacts but also provide a comfortable experience for visitors. When the museum opens, the hull will be undergoing a five year drying-out process, following 17 years of deliberate waterlogging. To achieve the right balance, the museum has the world's largest display cases, with tightly controlled environmental conditions, using wherever possible low energy techniques to minimise operational costs.
To protect the historic dry dock, the new museum's structure spans it, resting on four points only. Highly detailed co-ordination work has been required for the construction sequence of the project. Computational modelling has been used extensively for the structural design and for environmental control during the various conservation and construction phases, modifying the existing setup as work proceeds to achieve the new building. For the drying-out process, conditioned air is to be distributed in a controlled way across the hull, decks and individual timbers.
We also provided environmental, flood, heritage and transport input for the planning process and building regulation consents.