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Ackermann helps enlighten visitors at iconic Scottish landmark

08 May 2013

Re-opened to the public in December 2011, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh contains the world's most comprehensive collection of Scottish art.

The £17.6m restoration programme took advantage of the Onix Plus solutions provided by Ackermann, the specialist power and data distribution range from MK Electric.

Originally built in 1889, the landmark’s refurbishment involved the removal of all existing building services and their replacement with modern efficient technology integrated into the building structure.

MK Electric was awarded the contract to provide a heavy duty solution for floor power and data distribution. All new services were required to be extremely flexible and provide the gallery with the ability to host a variety of different exhibitions, but discreetly with minimal impact to the final finish.

To meet the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s objectives, 13 Onix Plus Floorboxes and Power Grommets with snorkel lids, and 90 of the same solution with blank lids were installed. Onix Plus™ Floorboxes and Power Grommets are an innovative solution to hard floor power and data distribution requirements in screed floors with coverings such as laminate, wood, stone and marble.

“With the gallery needing a stylish but heavy duty and robust solution the load plate design of Onix Plus offered the perfect screed floor system for this project. By using MK Electric’s Ackermann products it was possible to deliver the load bearing and durable solution needed in such popular public spaces exposed to substantial footfall, whilst also keeping the historical aesthetics in perfect condition by embedding the original wooden flooring into the lids.” said Jason Ng, Marketing Communications Specialist, MK Electric.

Tested to EN50085-2-2 standards, the Onix Plus Floorbox is able to withstand a 10,000N load.

Designed around a central snorkel cord outlet the solution allows multiple appliances and lighting solutions access to plug tops across a number of locations within one room, where previously power was inaccessible or required exposed on-floor cabling. The water tight plain lid and snorkel designs allow the floor to be washed even when the power system is in use. The square box design also allows for 90° rotation of the floorbox for system flexibility.

Ciaran Fagan, Technical Director at Harley Haddow, the consulting engineers for the project, comments: “The mechanical and electrical scope for the project included the full renewal of the service installations and provision for the integration of specialist lighting systems. As a number of different power and data outlet configurations exist in the spaces where the floorboxes were installed, our decision to opt for the Onix Plus™ system hinged on its versatility benefits.

“The gallery’s rooms have different functions and we needed a system that would allow us the flexibility of its usage whilst being reliable and keeping consistency from a technical point of view.”

Closed to the public for two years, the extensive refurbishment allowed for a 60 per cent increase in space within the building, opening up many previously inaccessible areas for visitors to the gallery to enjoy. Public access to all three floors is available, so guests can enjoy the revamped gallery’s 75,000 exhibits.

Justin Fenton, Project Architect, Page \ Park Architects, states: “Onix Plus™ floorboxes seamlessly integrated into the building services. The design called for extremely lucid and high quality solutions that would minimise maintenance and lifecycle costs. The discreet profile of the floorboxes, and ability to embed different floor finish types and depths into the lid, ensured a highly functional finish sensitive to the historic interior.”

Robert Galbraith, Programme Manager for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, comments: “Our top priority was to ensure a completely immersive and captivating experience for the public to explore the story of Scotland and her people. To help enable this, we sought a quality power solution with the flexibility to quickly and reliably adapt to the frequent layout changes our different exhibitions demand.

“For us, a design that was able to supply display cases with lighting and data as unobtrusively as possible was also a key priority. We want to make sure the only things that catch our visitors’ attention are the exhibits.”

Internally, the floorbox design includes a staggered plate and service outlet box designed to support Category 6 structured network cabling systems. The staggered plate provides strain relief clearance for moulded plug tops, and is height adjustable to accommodate a range of recess depths.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s refurbishment was funded by contributions from the Scottish Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Monument Trust and a number of other charitable bodies.

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