Project Description

Built in the 1670’s and the world’s first university museum, the Ashmolean Museum, part of Oxford University, recently underwent redevelopment to make it suitable for modern visitors. Sika®-1, from renowned manufacturer of building materials Sika, was chosen to provide superior waterproofing to basement areas and protect the priceless artefacts they contain.

The £61 million project saw all but the original, Grade 1 listed elements of the structure demolished and replaced with a stylishly designed and fit for purpose new building. The redevelopment has doubled the gallery space of the museum and created dedicated conservation and education facilities. Crucially, given the Ashmolean’s collection of rare objects, it provides excellent environmental control.

Famed architect Rick Mather designed the structure, including its 4000m2 basement. To provide the exacting standards environmental control that the curators and managers of the museum required, consulting structural engineers Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners specified Sika, safe in the knowledge its waterproofing system certified full protection.

Project Requirements

The provision of materials had to fit in with tight site deadlines, to which Sika demonstrated its ability to supply large specifications under pressure. The waterproofing was specified to BS8102: 1990 Grade 4 – the highest recognised standard of waterproofing protection. This required a high level of technical ability to apply the Sika system. The system was installed by specialist contractor, Renlon. To ensure these requirements were met Sika provided Renlon with comprehensive technical and practical training for several of its staff members.

The main contractor and client stipulated that as many sustainable products should be used on the project as was possible. Sika packaging complied with this policy, as it is all sustainably sourced.

Sika Solution

The basement’s vast size meant the system required a total of 250 tonnes of Sika prebagged mortar, combined with 27,500 litres of Sika®-1. Over the reinforced concrete structure, the company cast a layer of Sika®-1 Spritz Mortar. This was followed by a second and third layer of Sika®-1 Render and Finishing Mortar to the walls and, equally, a second and third layer of Sika®-1 Screed Mortar to the floor – creating a three layer system of protection.

Using Sika innovative pre-bagged mortar solution, the company was assured of creating the perfect mortar mix.

To ensure no moisture permeated that structure, Renlon applied Sika® EpoCem®, an epoxy cementitious combination material, which acts as a surface mounted DPM when used in combination with Sikadur® 32. This was essential to maintain the integrity of the artefacts held within the basement. The product also heavily reduced time on the project. Once applied on top of the mortar, it sped up drying times, allowing work to proceed ahead of schedule.