Historical Belgian War Museum benefits from spray foam insulation's air sealing properties

May 3, 2017 Anthony Naimo

Close to the Luxembourg border, the Historical Center of Bastogne in the Belgian city of Bastogne was built as a joint effort between the United States and Belgium commemorating the infamous Battle of Ardennes, also known as the Battle of the Bulge, in 1944/45. Together with the nearby Memorial du Mardasson, the Historical Center of Bastogne celebrates the support from U.S. troops and remembers the numerous casualties sustained in the battle. The center showcases weapons and uniforms, and depicts stories from the battle and World War II, attracting thousands of visitors from across the globe annually.

In Spring 2013, the centre re-opened as the Bastogne War Museum beside the Memorial du Mardasson providing visitors with a new space to learn about the battles within the region. 

The City of Bastogne hired a local Wallonian construction company to lead the construction of the new museum space and restore the star-shaped historical center. 

The Challenge
Initially, the project only included the construction of two new buildings designed to complement the existing building. The Historical Center of Bastogne, a large wooden framed  structure in the shape of an American star with a slate roof, was considered well insulated by officials. However, when drilling into the walls of the  star-shaped structure to connect the new and existing buildings together, contractors discovered serious problems due to the poor insulation that had been previously installed. 

Upon drilling into the walls of the center, contractors had discovered that there was no vapor barrier nor air seal. The insulation that had been installed was a traditional fiberglass material. Furthermore, the slate roof was not breathable. The underside of the roof had been covered in PVC plastic.

The climate in the Ardennes region of Belgium, France and Luxembourg fluctuates with humid summers and temperatures often plummeting to -20°C (-4°F) in winter. As a result of the Ardennes climate together with the construction of the historical center, the contractors were faced
with abundant condensation, mold as well as rot at the bottom of the  wooden frame structure. The rotting frame would lead to a stability problem, a problem that officials were not expecting and knew they had to address quickly.

City officials and contractors sought to eliminate the condensation, mold and stability concerns by consulting the local Icynene contractor. The spray foam contractor had to find a solution that did not require the roof to be completely renovated since officials had stipulated that the roof would not be replaced.

The Solution
The licensed Icynene spray foam contractors were challenged to find a solution and met with officials from the City of Bastogne, engineers and architects to ensure every problem was addressed. The team also had to ensure they could sufficiently address the non-breathable roof. The
spray foam team presented Icynene for consideration. 


The spray foam contractors had studied the problem areas with a variety of scenarios and proposed the best available solution. Open-cell, light-density Icynene Classic spray foam insulation was chosen as the ideal solution for the historical center. As a light-density, open-cell spray foam, Icynene Classic is a soft, flexible material that maintains an air seal throughout the seasonal changes. As a vapor permeable material, it also supports bi-directional drying of assemblies. The insulation solution proved ideal for the historical center and was successfully applied. The application took around four days and was applied throughout the building, with some areas reaching 20 meters high. 

The Result
Following application of Icynene Classic, the historical center is now a well insulated and air-tight building. Right-sized mechanical ventilation systems will be installed to ensure that visitors to the center, as well as employees, are comfortable throughout the seasons.

The probability of condensation leading to mold and rot is now minimized, ensuring that the historical center’s structure and frame remain sound over the long term.

City officials and engineers were impressed with the ease of the insulation’s application. The professionalism, cleanliness and knowledge from Icynene contractor was also acknowledged by city officials.
 

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