Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Levolux shows off its seamless curves

45 Park Lane in central London has undergone a remarkable transformation, from a state of disrepair into an iconic luxury hotel. Perhaps the most striking external feature is the custom Solar Shading solution, comprising a series of curved Aerofoil Fins, manufactured and installed by Levolux.

Designed by The Office of Thierry W Despont in New York, in collaboration with Paul Davis and Partners, 45 Park Lane is the latest property to be included in the luxury hotel group, Dorchester Collection. It offers 46 luxury rooms, including a penthouse suite, all with stunning views over London’s Hyde Park, together with an ultra-chic bar and an American steak restaurant.

Originally constructed in 1963, the building’s tired concrete facade has been dramatically overhauled, with the addition of energy efficient, horizontal fixed Aerofoil Fins. Following an original design by The Office of Thierry W Despont, Levolux engineered the Aerofoil Fins to wrap around the building’s curved facade, providing an effective form of shading, but also to create a striking, contemporary aesthetic. As the UK's leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was uniquely capable of engineering the seamless curved Aerofoil Fins that the architect demanded, representing a real coup for the business.

400mm wide, extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins have been applied in vertical stacks above windows on the building’s upper eight floors. This reduces the exposure of windows to direct sunlight, particularly in the summer. By reflecting and absorbing heat from the sun’s rays, Aerofoil Fins can significantly reduce solar heat gain within a building, virtually eliminating the need for air conditioning, which saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions.

In total, Levolux installed 763 lengths of Aerofoil Fins, all fixed at an angle of 30 degrees, which is the optimum angle for countering the sun’s rays when they are at their peak intensity. Of these, 177 lengths of Aerofoil Fin (more than 20%) have been carefully curved to a precise radius, following the contours of the building. This has helped to create a seamless aesthetic of Fins that effectively wrap around the building. The impressive Fins are emphasised at night when they are illuminated.

The Aerofoil Fins, with their off-white powder coating, provide a highly effective and attractive addition to the building’s facade.

As evidenced here, the application of external Brise Soleil or Solar Shading is just as important for refurbished buildings as for those constructed from scratch. Levolux Aerofoil Fins can be fixed or motorised, arranged horizontally or vertically and while aluminium is the most popular material used, they can also be formed from timber or glass.

The curved Aerofoil Fins fitted at 45 Park Lane are, like all of Levolux’s solutions, backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

Following a comprehensive refurbishment of its interior and exterior, including the application of a custom Solar Shading solution from Levolux, this iconic 1960’s building now offers  contemporary, luxury accommodation for London’s more discerning visitors.

For more information, visit www.levolux.com.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Levolux makes a 'Grand' entrance

The Grand Hyatt New York’s bar and restaurant area was recently renovated, inside and out, including the addition of an ultra-modern Solar Shading solution, by Levolux.

Shedding its 80’s glitz, mirrored walls and highly polished stainless steel fixtures, the hotel has been dramatically overhauled, as part of a $65 million refurbishment project. The iconic New York hotel, conveniently situated adjacent to Grand Central Station, boasts 1,311 updated luxury guest rooms, a new ballroom and a refurbished bar and restaurant.

Designed by Bentel and Bentel, the hotel’s bar and restaurant, known as New York Central, is cantilevered over 42nd Street and boasts unique views of the bustling sidewalk below. Its glazed facade is a distinctive feature of the building, allowing daylight to penetrate the building, but also exposing it to the risk of excessive solar heat gain and glare. To counter this risk, Levolux was approached to develop a custom Solar Shading solution, based on its Infiniti® Fin system.

The Infiniti® Fin system is an innovative, flexible Solar Shading system that accommodates a wide range of Louvres or Fins, installed internally or externally, against vertical, horizontal or inclined glazed elevations. Its unique concealed fixings allow Louvres to be fixed at almost any angle and to be cantilevered past the last support.

The striking Solar Shading solution was completed in two separate stages. Firstly 77 Aerofoil Fins were installed internally, arranged horizontally, suspended from a sloping glazed roof above the hotel’s bar and restaurant.

The second stage of the installation required an additional 114 Aerofoil Fins to be applied externally, forming a three sided feature above the hotel’s main entrance. The Fins help to control light, solar heat gain and glare within the hotel’s bar and restaurant, while retaining impressive views outside onto 42nd Street.

The internal and external Aerofoil Fins, all measuring 150mm in width, combine effectively to complete an attractive, yet highly functional Solar Shading solution.

All aluminum components were given a durable powder coating. This was applied as a cool grey colour for internal Fins and a brilliant white colour for external Fins, to complement their surroundings. With its aluminum and stainless steel construction, the Infiniti® Fin system is virtually maintenance free and like all Levolux solar shading systems, it is backed by a three year warranty.

The completed Solar Shading solution at the Grand Hyatt New York gives the hotel a sleek, contemporary new look and also ensures it remains cool naturally, throughout the summer. 

To find out more, visit www.levolux.com.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Levolux gives you more

If you have visited London Bridge station recently you may, or may not have been impressed by the imposing 'Shard' skyscraper that towers overhead. Although this building may take some time to win over its critics, the nearby 'More London' development, is a great example of ultra-modern architecture, which still looks impressive, 10 years after it was conceived.

The 13 acre development, adjacent to Tower Bridge comprises City Hall, thousands of square metres of office space, a hotel, bars, cafes, restaurants, piazzas and entertainment facilities.

Plot 6, More London, a seven-storey office building designed by Foster + Partners, is arguably the most striking building in the development. 

Levolux designed and installed a bespoke solar shading system to the southern facade of this landmark building.  A 21 metre vertical stack of 100mm dia satin anodised aluminium tubes mounted on a dark grey steel structure gives the appearance of 'floating straws' over the building's 100 metre long facade.

Due to the building's location, close to the River Thames and the prevailing winds, it was essential that full sized wind tunnel testing was carried out to confirm the suitability of the design.

The complete system, 60 tonnes of support steel structure and 120 tonnes of aluminium tubes and supports were all hung from the roof of the building with lateral restraints at each floor level. The system also incorporates a feature lighting box at the bottom of the structure to bathe the pavement with light and this box also incorporates a guttering system to remove as much residual rain water as possible. 

Former Project and Development Director at More London, Alastair Smith, commented: "Levolux was involved from the early stages of the project providing advice and information to assist Foster + Partners with their design development of the Solar Shading at 6 More London Place.  We were impressed with Levolux's thorough approach during the detailed design stages and wind tunnel testing, and the quality of installation speaks for itself with the completed solar shading screen creating a stunning feature at the entrance to the More London development." 

For more information, please visit our website at www.levolux.com.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Cold Facts about Hot Offices

As winter loosens its grip once again and we all look forward to warmer weather, we should not lose sight of the significant health hazard associated with working in high temperatures.

The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) refusal to set a 'maximum workplace temperature' surprises many, not least the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The TUC has persistantly called for a maximum workplace temperature of 30 º C, or 27 º C for people doing strenuous work. 

What is "reasonable comfort"? 
The HSE simply insists that employers abide by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and its accompanying code of practice and guidance. This requires employers to provide “reasonable comfort”.

The decision not to set a maximum temperature was taken to compensate for some workplaces that may have high temperatures due to the nature of the industry and processes involved, such as bakeries or foundries. While it may be impractical to require every workplace to comply with a maximum temperature, it may be easier and more sensible to introduce it for office environments.

The HSE's refusal to set a maximum working temperature may also stem from the Government not wanting to encourage the use of mechanical cooling and air conditioning, which would significantly increase energy consumption and accelerate global warming.

The Workplace Regulations instead recommend that better ventilation and solar shading systems are applied to buildings that are prone to over-heating in the summer. This sensible advice needs to be pressed home to protect the welfare of workers and to ensure that employers and landlords can be held to account.

Effective solar shading can readily solve the problem of high office temperatures without the costs and environmental damage associated with air conditioning. 

Air conditioning systems consume vast amounts of electricity! 
According to one report, the refrigeration industry accounts for 15% of the output of the national grid! Electricity generation produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. So the cooling industry is heavily implicated in this climate hazard too.

Solar shading systems such as curtains, blinds, aerofoil fins, and louvres – which control solar heat gain to keep offices cool in Summer – are environmentally benign because they do not use electricity and do not emit dangerous ozone-depleting chemicals. They also reduce unpleasant glare without obscuring windows, providing office occupants with a comfortable working environment. And they free occupants to open windows if they so wish, something that air conditioning prohibits.

Solar shading can help to cut costs 
The application of solar shading, in contrast with air conditioning alone, will help provide significant cost savings to building owners and occupiers. It is relatively quick and easy to install, even while the building is occupied. Solar shading works passively, so consumes no electricity, and once installed, solar shading is virtually maintenance free and requires very little servicing. 

The case for solar shading is compelling for new build and refurbishment projects. If designed and installed correctly, it can virtually elliminate the need for air conditioning. Workers will feel the benefit from a cool, comfortable, naturally lit environment, throughout the year. All we need now is for the HSE to introduce a maximum temperature for UK offices, and then everyone can enjoy the benefit of solar shading. 

For more information, please visit our website at www.levolux.com.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Levolux delivers a lesson in sustainability

Levolux’s Timber Fin Solar Shading system was hand picked for architects Foster + Partners’ new-age Langley Academy of Science in Berkshire.

Replacing a troubled 7,000sqm school, the unique new build 10,000sqm academy re-invented the school experience. The new academy educates its 1150 students in many science related subjects, including sustainability.

The building’s design is a model of environmental excellence, with numerous examples of energy efficient technology in practice. Taking pride of place among these is Levolux’s state-of-the-art Timber Fin solar shading system.

Levolux installed 657 of its Timber Fins over the glazing of the curvaceous building, providing a highly effective method of solar shading for its classrooms, laboratories and work spaces.

Not only does it deliver the optimum classroom environment, but by reducing solar heat gain, the school’s need for air conditioning is greatly reduced. Subsequently the need for energy is reduced and so the overall carbon footprint of the academy is lowered.

With the exterior cladding constructed of wood, the option of using Levolux’s Timber Fins was the natural choice. The use of Western Red Cedar works with the exterior walls to further enhance the buildings stunning aesthetics. Encapsulating the architect’s vision for an inherently eco-friendly project, all timber supplied by Levolux was derived from sustainable sources.

Levolux’s successful work alongside award winning architects, such as Foster + Partners, demonstrates its position at the forefront of the solar shading industry, with unparalleled expertise and experience.

The Levolux product range offers a wide array of custom shading solutions in a number of different finishes, delivering any project the perfect design every time.

Like all Solar Shading systems from Levolux, the Timber Fins used on Langley Academy are backed with the company’s design, manufacture and installation package, along with a three year warranty.

For more information visit our website at www.levolux.com.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Levolux makes it cool to refurbish

The refurbishment of existing public sector buildings is becoming increasingly common, partly due to the public sector spending cuts that were introduced in 2010 and 2011. 

In most cases, demolition and subsequent rebuilding is not an option in terms of logistics or cost. Estates Management Statistics (EMS) research indicates that in England, over 40% of the university estate was built between 1960 and 1979. The fate of these buildings hangs in the balance, as the UK Government is committed to delivering carbon reductions of 80% by 2050.

Notable problems with buildings from this period include the application of single glazing, inflexible and poorly insulated cladding systems and the lack of adequate external solar shading. 

While the financial case for refurbishment might look poor, with costs in some cases as high as 80% of new build and increasing competition from new, more attractive facilities, there can be significant benefits in following the refurbishment route. Fewer planning restrictions, a shortened construction programme and not least, the benefit of a reduced environmental impact. 

In the past, the benefits of applying external solar shading could be offset by the increased risk of cold bridging, acoustic transmission and interstitial condensation. To overcome these problems, Levolux developed a unique curtain walling bracket which features a thermal and acoustic break. The Triniti bracket and Triniti RF bracket are ground-breaking innovations from the UK's leading solar shading specialist. The application of external shading for new and existing buildings is now possible without compromise.

As a case in point, we can look at the refurbishment of the University of Derby’s Kedleston Road site. Dating back to the early 1960’s, the site comprised of three multi-storey towers which were typical of the architectural style from this period. The single glazed, poorly insulated envelope resulted in high energy bills and poor environmental conditions. This was felt most during the summer, when solar heat gain would make rooms with south-facing windows uncomfortably hot.

The iconic towers have helped establish the University as a centre of excellence for developing talent, which has contributed to economic growth in the East Midlands region. As part of a £13.5 million refurbishment project, Levolux was invited to help improve the energy efficiency and internal comfort levels with the application of an attractive Timber Fin Solar Shading System.

Adjacent to the University’s main entrance, the South Tower is a dominant focal point of the campus, occupying a prominent south facing position. It provides almost 3500m2 of administration, meeting and teaching space over five floors. 

To combat the risk of excessive solar heat gain, through south facing, lower level windows, Levolux developed a custom solar shading system, comprising four rows of 450mm wide by 80mm deep, external Timber Fins. Installed horizontally along the building’s south east and south west elevations, the Timber Fins are fixed at an angle of 90 degrees and have a combined length of more than 52 metres. 

The finger-jointed, laminated, aerofoil shaped Timber Fins reflect and absorb direct sunlight, before it passes through windows. This significantly reduces solar heat gain, which helps to maintain comfortable internal temperatures, with less need for expensive, energy-sapping air conditioning equipment.

Levolux secured the attractive Timber Fins to the structure using its patented Triniti Bracket. It is the only known bracket to have an integrated thermal and acoustic break and has been proven to be 70% more effective at reducing heat loss, than conventional curtain walling brackets*. The exposed fixings and support arms have been given a dark grey powder coating, to complement the overall scheme.

The Timber Fins are engineered from Western Red Cedar, which is a lightweight, durable timber, requiring no application of a finish. Over time, the Timber Fins will adopt a silver-grey patina providing long-lasting good looks.

All timber used on this project was sustainably sourced and the Timber Fins, like all Solar Shading systems from Levolux, are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

Combined with other energy efficient features, such as low E glazing, the Levolux Solar Shading system is helping the University of Derby to achieve a significant reduction in its energy consumption, which will consolidate its status as one of the most highly rated higher education institutions in the country, for environmental performance. 

*Results of independent tests carried out by the Centre for Window and Cladding Technology (CWCT) at Bath University.

For more information, visit www.levolux.com.