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Kier to build £19M archive facility

Kier is in line to build a new £19M design & build historical resource centre, near Falmer in Brighton, for East Sussex County Council.

A partnership project between East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and the University of Sussex, The Keep will house historical records and archives for the local area, together with the Special Collections of the University of Sussex, including the internationally renowned Mass Observation Archive. It will also include the headquarters of the Sussex Family History Group.

Together with architect Atkins, Kier Southern has been commissioned to design, develop and construct this bespoke archival records facility from concept through all the architectural stages. Situated opposite the University of Sussex at Woollards Field, The Keep will provide over 5ha of storage, office and public access space across three floors and will be formed of two main blocks, one housing the repository and one for all other functions.

The repository, or strong room, which will store the historical records and archives, has been designed to meet specific storage and preservation needs and will be built stringently to the British Standard recommendations for the storage and exhibition of archival documents (BS5454:2000), which specifies temperature and humidity ranges, shelving criteria and materials for document containers.

This particular part of the building is planned in a light coloured, brick-faced, heavyweight masonry with an insulated ventilated cavity, to ensure robustness, high security, air tightness and an ability to retain internal environmental conditions. The roof will be a heavyweight concrete construction with a second shallow standing seam pitched ‘over-roof’ offering double protection to the important records within.

Public areas of The Keep will include a reception, display and sales area as well as education and learning room and refreshment space. Members of the public will also have access to a reference library, finding aids and a document search area.

Kier Southern is due to begin work on site this summer, with construction completion expected for Christmas 2012. The archive will be opened in 2013 following a services proving period and inspection by The National Archive.

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