Hull History Centre

Commercial & LeisureStructural

Hull History Centre

Project Info

The brief for the Hull History Centre was to create a new, integrated, state of the art storage and public access facility for the archives and local studies collections of Hull City Council and the University of Hull, within a building which is highly visible and accessible and a significant focus for local and community pride.

The building is situated on a former car park site and forms a new event on two major pedestrian routes proposed by the Hull Regeneration Masterplan. The project included the creation of a new park to the south of the building, which creates a new public place in the city and forms part of the new Green Walk stretching from Albion Street and Kingston Square to the west, to the Charterhouse Park and the River Hull to the east.

A public arcade runs the full length of the building providing an intermediate space between the city and the archive, extending the public realm into the History Centre itself. The main building houses a library, search room, lecture theatre, conservation studios and offices providing facilities for the users. The archive is situated on the first floor and is designed to meet the national archive standard, BS5454.

Glue laminated timber was chosen for the arcade structure because of its sustainable credentials and the ability to form the timber members into the curvaceous shapes required to realise the project. Hull was traditionally the gateway for the import of Baltic timber into the UK and the History Centre is an emblem of this long association. The timber used on this project is a European Whitewood and was manufactured by Kingston Craftsmen in their workshop, which is a few hundred metres from the History Centre site.

There were a number of unique challenges relating to the timber arcade structure on this project, particularly due to the geometry of the arcade and the use of ETFE cladding.

The curved nature of the ETFE cladding on plan and elevation posed a variety of structural and geometric challenges. Options considered included double curved timber members, particularly the eaves beam. This would have been difficult and expensive to fabricate, and could have generated substantially more waste timber in the fabrication process. Instead, following extensive design development, a geometry was selected which gave the desired curvature of the roof on plan and elevation, but only required singly curved glulam members.

Using inflated ETFE cushions as cladding introduced significant horizontal forces into the timber members, particularly if a cushion deflated. This required a detailed assessment of unusual load cases and the ribs and timber beams were designed to resist the resultant torsion induced in the members and keep deflections within acceptable limits. Particular care was also taken in the detailing of the timber connections to develop elegant solutions in keeping with the overall approach to the arcade.


ArchitectPringle Richards Sherratt Architects LTD

Structural EngineerAlan Baxter & Associates LLP

ContractorISG Regions

SpeciesEuropean Whitewood From Sweden

ClientHull City Council

JoineryKingston Craftsmen, Rawcliffe Associates