CVAN London visit to UCL PEARL + CAVE, Dagenham to explore ways to sustainably care for people, places, artefacts and collections during social and environmental change.

On Monday 15th May CVAN London and guests from across the visual arts sector were welcomed by Liora Malki-Epshtein, Jose Torero-Cullen & Fiona Jamieson to UCL PEARL + CAVE.

The visit began with an introduction to the borough from Ann Marie Peña, Head of Culture, and Marijke Steedman, Senior Curator of Culture Programmes at Barking & Dagenham Council.

Fiona Jamieson, Partnership Director, highlighted R&D opportunities at UCL PEARL (Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory). The Centre provides the space, technical support, and total environmental control to develop new commissions, re-imagine exhibition experience or manage catastrophic risk.

UCL PEARL offers a massive space – around 4,000m2 and 10m high – in which they can create life sized environments such as a gallery, theatre, or studio complex under controlled conditions, so that we can examine how artists and audiences interact with the built environment and other people in similar spaces. PEARL can house an underground train or a section of a high street. It can change the profile, type, and material of floor, simulate lighting of any colour and intensity, create sound from the tiniest birdsong to the most massive explosion, include other senses, such as smell, and much more.

The visiting group raised the following topics for PEARL:

  •   Artists’ R&D for large-scale commissions.
  •   How to understand visitor flow in the curation of exhibitions.
  •   Testing the re-orientation of collections for single generation and/or multi-generational audiences.
  •   Evidencing how audiences interact with art.
  •   Testing large audience behaviour (with the use of technologies).
  •   Fire safety & evacuation
  •   How to evaluate the impact of exhibition content and display materials.

Liora Malki-Epshtein introduced CAVE (Controlled Active Ventilation Environment), a brand new, unique research facility. It has been created to test at scale the impacts of ventilation of safety, consumer comfort, sustainability and much more. Liora and her team demonstrated the computer modelling of the impact of pollution in a building and discussed the opportunity for translating the digital models into fully constructed environments within the lab.

The visiting group raised the following topics for CAVE:

  •   Environmental modelling of the impact of pollution/dust/virus on visitors, staff, audiences, artefacts, and collections.
  •   Energy efficiencies: what works and how can it contribute to sector sustainability.
  •   How to prepare for catastrophic risk.
  •   Model and evidence the impact of climate change.
  •   H&S of multiple headset users in performance spaces.

Liora Malki-Epshtein is Associate Professor & Director of CAVE, UCL Dept of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, Faculty of Engineeri

Jose Torero Cullen is Professor & Head of UCL Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science.


UCL Cave