London & South East

Keeping history safe

The Keep is a brand new historical resource centre for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove.

As an archive for many important historical documents, The Keep includes rare royal letters, Edwardian photographs and public records, and provides a home to the library of the Sussex Family History Group.

The new building is being constructed south east of the A270 Lewes Road, Brighton, in Woollards Field. The site offers good transport links, with Falmer train station just ten minutes walk away and bus stops situated on either side of the development.

Planning permission for The Keep was granted in December 2010, with work commencing in 2011. Leading construction, service and property specialists, the Kier Group is the main contractor on the project, with Atkins providing architectural services.

The impressive new building will provide a home to over six miles of archives and historical resources, with many documents dating back more than 900 years. The Keep will also house many rare historical resources, such as the Special Collections of the University of Sussex, which includes the internationally renowned Mass Observation Archive.

Documents held within The Keep, will range from maps, plans, written records and photographs, to films, drawings and oral histories. In addition, digital and electronic records will be kept in the building, along with local, national and even international collections.

Head of Royal Pavilion and Museums at Brighton & Hove City Council, Janita Bagshawe, said:

“The Keep is on course to meet BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and will provide a state-of-the-art building for housing collections, ensuring their long term care to enable generations to learn from them.

“It will bring together in one place a range of collections from the city and county and provide for the first time opportunities for learners to work with a range of archive and museum resources.”

Once complete, The Keep will welcome a range of visitors, from schools, colleges and universities, to community groups, local organisations and anyone who wants to access the unique collections. The six mile repository block is temperature controlled to preserve the collections and has space to accommodate future additions.

Public search rooms and associated facilities will be made available for visitors to use and include learning and multifunction rooms, an oral history recording room, group research areas and a ground floor café. Additional facilities at The Keep include a conservation workshop and digitisation suite, electronic preservation facilities and break-out areas.

The building also includes a biomass boiler which will provide heating, solar panels for electricity and hot water, and rainwater harvesting.

Before work began on The Keep, East Sussex County Council – who is spearheading The Keep – asked members of the public for their views on the project, as well as their thoughts on the design of the new development. All of the opinions and views recorded in an online survey were carefully considered and used to help shape the building.

Public consultations were also held in libraries, with all collected data submitted as the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement plan, which was supplied along with the site’s planning application.

Due to the feedback received in the Statement of Community Involvement plan, East Sussex County Council was able to make some important improvements to its proposal. The improvements included increasing the size of the café, altering the front doors, improving access and providing the site with an outdoor eating area.

To improve access to the site, the former South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) also completed important roadworks in the Falmer area prior to construction work taking place. Improvements included road widening, the creation of a new flyover, junction improvements on the A27 and A270, the creation of a new link road to the University of Sussex and the installation of a footpath, cyclepath and CCTV.

For more information about The Keep, please visit:

Kingspan Insulated Panels

Kingspan Insulated Panels is the global leader in the design, development and delivery of advanced building envelopes’ products and solutions. Founded in the late 1960s, the Kingspan Group has grown steadily to become a truly global player, with an annual turnover of £1.3bn (year 2011).

Integrated Solar Solutions, one of the sub-divisions of Kingspan Insulated Panels, is a provider of bespoke solar energy solutions, and has successfully  worked with many clients, including Legal and General, British Land, Morrison’s and National Express, as well as main contractors such as Kier, McLarens and Bowmer and Kirkland.

Kingspan has worked on The Keep from its infancy with Aecom, designing the PV system around the kWh output needed to make the project meet its carbon reduction targets. Kingspan worked closely with Kier to finalise the design and construction plan and installed and commissioned the system in a short time frame.

Commenting on the project, Aisling McArdle, Kingspan Insulated Panels, said:

“We wanted to be involved in this project to show how straight forward it can be to meet very ambitious carbon reduction targets with the aid of good design and a professional installation service. The Keep was a prestigious “Green” project that followed our vision of providing ethical, renewable and affordable best practice solutions for the construction sector. It was great being involved!”

Aisling added:

“We have knowledge and experience in contractual negotiations & obligations as well as installation to enable us to undertake PV projects of considerable size on commercial and industrial buildings. With very robust processes in place we can ensure our clients receive the most cost-effective and efficient systems and meet, and in some cases exceed the internal hurdle rates for large scale renewable investments.

“We have a unique offering within the marketplace, providing a complete roof and PV package solution ideal for new build and retrofit applications.”

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Roma Publications

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