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Penny’s chosen for £30M refurbishment project at Aberdeen Art Gallery

Penny’s chosen for £30M refurbishment project at Aberdeen Art Gallery


As part of an ambitious and ground-breaking refurbishment project valued at £30M, Penny Hydraulics Ltd has been selected as the preferred lifting equipment partner for the Aberdeen Art Gallery - designing, manufacturing and installing a series of innovative lighting winch systems within the main dome.

Aberdeen Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and the Remembrance Hall complex of buildings are currently closed for major redevelopment and are due to reopen in Winter 2017.

A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of almost £10million was awarded for the ambitious programme of works backed by Historic Scotland to improve the Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and Memorial Court. Aberdeen City Council committed £10million from its Non-Housing Capital Fund towards the overall cost of the project, and guaranteed a public and charitable fundraising campaign for the remaining £10M needed.

The project, designed by Glasgow’s Hoskins Architects, will convert the A-listed building into an arts venue, with works including the provision of new educational facilities to create opportunities for all to learn more about the arts, and the planned sensitive upgrading of the Cowdray Hall which will create a fine new performance space for audiences and performers. Given the Art Gallery’s pivotal position close to His Majesty’s Theatre, the Belmont Picturehouse, citymoves, the Central Library and Union Terrace Gardens, the ongoing development of a cultural quarter will be enhanced by the development.

The War Memorial on site will also be carefully treated to reflect both its role as a space for quiet contemplation and as a civic space to honour the sacrifices made on behalf of the community.

Interior plans include the creation of 21 gallery spaces in place of the existing 11, a 500 square metre space in which to showcase international-quality exhibitions, and a community gallery in a new wing at the rear of the building. Exterior plans involve removing the pitched roofs and skylights behind the parapets of the main building and adding a new storey of accommodation for temporary galleries and a learning zone.

Making the gallery fit for purpose for the 21st century, the plans incorporate the introduction of mechanical handling systems where appropriate and having undergone a free of charge, no-obligation site survey with Penny Hydraulics lighting winch division engineers in November 2016, it was decided that a motorised lighting winch system would be installed within the gallery’s main dome to mechanically lift and lower a huge lighting frame, on which would hang an imposing centrepiece luminaire.

Following approval of the system design, the specialist raising and lowering system was installed in May 2017. The system complies with best practice guidelines by eliminating the need to work from height to change bulbs, clean, or carry out other essential maintenance to the luminaire. In addition, the system offers the additional benefit of ensuring that the suspended load has two means of support – essential for safety reasons.

A four-motor electric winch system with a maximum working capacity of 600kg was specified to lift and lower the lighting frame - the system comprises of wire ropes, pulleys and the lighting winch itself. Operated by a motorised winch, pulleys are supplied to carry the wire rope along the desired rope runs. One man sited at the winch position can easily and quickly lower the lighting frame and luminaire for cleaning and maintenance without the need for ladders or scaffolding.

“The installation of the lighting winch system is a huge step forward in the process of modernising the gallery,” said General Manager of Penny’s Lighting Winch Division, Ed Penny. “Essential maintenance of the luminaire can now be carried out safely and without the need for costly access equipment. Because the system is so quick and easy to use, disruption is kept to an absolute minimum too – essential considering the luminaire is situated in the gallery’s main hub.”

“The interior improvements will thoroughly modernise the gallery,” said Deputy Council Leader Councillor Marie Boulton. “We are adding a modern dimension with high design standards to an outstanding historic building – one which has been supported by Historic Scotland and now by the Heritage Lottery Fund."

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said, “Investment in the Art Gallery and its collections will ensure that this great city's artistic heritage is protected and enhanced for many years to come.”

Penny Hydraulics lighting winch division offer manual, electric, remote controlled, interior and exterior winching systems for items such as lighting, menu-boards, artwork and speakers. A complete design package means that the company works closely with architects and structural engineers through the commissioning, manufacture, installation and maintenance stages of a project.

Penny Hydraulics own purpose-built premises houses a manufacturing and assembly plant where all the functions of a fully integrated company are carried out with design, manufacturing, installation, aftersales support and nationwide service operation. With 40 years’ experience, the company are the leading authority in this field and install and maintain lifting and lowering systems for chandeliers and other lighting installations in; museums, hotels, courts, theatres, stadiums, breweries, railways, retail premises, stately and private homes. Further prestigious locations include Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, The Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Courts of Justice and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

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