Unprecedented new highs in showcase development and manufacturing techniques
Working with the renowned Gehry Partners LLP, from their incredible band-saw sculpted acrylic concept maquettes ClickNetherfield knew that there would be no compromise to the design intent, nor any concessions made to standard production methods or the accepted limitations of current showcase design.
With that in mind, ClickNetherfield devised a keen strategy of organic design engineering from concept to completion, with rigorous and iterative testing throughout.
To allow a freedom of product development, it was clear to them that their first step was to define a 'rulebook' for the architects to work within; rules that weren't designed to confine them, but rather give them flexible boundaries within which they could let their concepts run free whilst allowing ClickNetherfield as museum showcase experts to maintain the highest levels of security, access and conservation.
The nature of the product and its geometry rendered existing drafting and CAD practises virtually redundant, so once the concept began to take shape, they developed new processes and procedures to deal with the complex geometry and fabrication techniques; almost completely doing away with traditional drawings in favour of direct CAD/CAM transfer.
One of the most significant challenges of the product was to create a square profile channel that swept along with the curving tops, which also had to incorporate the fibre optic lighting track and fixtures, the hinge mechanisms and door locks. They studied products that they felt shared similar geometry challenges; rollercoaster rails, for example, but ultimately ended up with a very simple design.
Using short individual segments instead of a continuous curved rail they created a modular system block that could take care of all the features and functions required at any position in the case. It was a completely flexible and very elegant solution and ClickNetherfield were able to keep these 'clever' blocks completely hidden behind the surface-bonded glass, laser-cut cladding sections and lighting fins.
As the design of these showcases was so radical and so many new CAD and fabrication techniques were being employed, a thorough programme of testing became vital. Initially, small mock-ups were used to validate concepts and practicalities of the build. Then, after some structural engineer reviews of the construction they made a full-sized, fully featured three-metre section of the first showcase. Further testing took place throughout the manufacturing and installation period to ensure that all of the elements met the strict criteria and safety factors this stunning product demanded.