Waterproofing The British Museum, London

Situated within the renowned British Museum complex in London, the King Edward VII Galleries stand as a distinguished Grade 1 listed edifice. Erected between 1907 and 1914, this architectural marvel is supported by an intricate network of tunnels and shafts designed to facilitate air circulation from an external ventilation system.

However, challenges arose when these tunnels began experiencing significant water penetration, leading to concerns regarding the purity of the air circulating within the gallery. This posed potential risks to the precious artefacts housed therein.


Arti Structural Waterproofing collaborated closely with Newton and Oldroyd to devise a strategy to shield these tunnels from both water penetration and potential fire threats. The objective was to reinstate them as the chief air conduit for the overhead galleries. The procedure encompassed meticulous cleaning and mending of the tunnel interiors, followed by the deployment of a robust waterproofing solution that also met fire safety standards. The result aligned with the BS 8102:2022 Grade 2 specifications and complied with the fire safety guidelines set by the British Museum.

The Solution

Working closely with Newton, the British Museum, the lead contractor, and Nex Architecture, our team at Artiwaterproofing set out with a shared vision. Our goal was to craft a system tailored to the distinct needs of waterproofing and fireproofing, paramount for a Grade 1 listed structure.

Once we were satisfied with the pristine condition and preparation of the walls and floors, our choice was HydroCoat 107 Elastic 2K to act as the premier Type A barrier waterproofing. This resilient, cement-based barrier was vital for sealing leaks, especially in areas where a Type C system wasn’t appropriate.

Subsequently, we implemented the Oldroyd Xtf membrane, providing a comprehensive Type C cavity drain membrane system to the tunnel’s infrastructure. Owing to their reversibility and minimal attachment to the substrate, Type C systems are highly esteemed for use in listed buildings. To further amplify drainage efficiency, we integrated CDM 520 eco Floor beneath the floor, maximising the efficiency of the pump system.

Complexities Faced

Our specialist team at Artiwaterproofing faced several challenges throughout this multifaceted endeavour. The heightened humidity levels, combined with the intricate task of installing a fire-resistant membrane within a constricted tunnel space, presented both physical and technical challenges. Given that many existing services remained non-removable, our team had to display remarkable skill to ensure the membrane flawlessly adhered to every surface.


Over a ten-week period, in collaboration with Newton, our team successfully delivered a system that is not just waterproof and fire-resistant, but also maintainable and reversible. The result? A delighted client equipped with a solution that meets their every need. Moving forward, regular maintenance and servicing will be conducted by our team, ensuring the system’s longevity and optimal performance.