Monday, 26 March 2012

Levolux scrubs up at the RVC

The Royal Veterinary College’s new £5.4 million Teaching and Research Centre (TaRC), situated at the heart of its Hawkshead Campus, benefits from natural ventilation and a stylish Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

Architecture PLB was appointed to design the Teaching and Research Centre (TaRC), incorporating a new gateway into the campus. The multi-level development comprising offices, laboratories and social learning spaces, was officially opened in December 2011 by the Princess Royal.

The TaRC building features Western Red Cedar cladding and generous glazing, including two roof lights which allow daylight to illuminate the building. Research areas and academic offices are accommodated on upper levels, while the college’s new double height entrance leads to social learning areas and flexible laboratories.  

To ensure optimum internal conditions are maintained within the building and its roof plantroom, Levolux was invited to develop a solution combining its successful Infiniti Fin system, along with its Ventilation and Screening Louvres.

Heavily serviced laboratories, situated along the south-facing elevation, are warmed naturally by the sun, thanks to double-height glazing, which also gives them a light, airy feel. While this is highly desirable during the winter, solar heat gain can become excessive in the summer without some form of solar control.

Levolux’s Infiniti Fin system was chosen to provide effective solar control. Eleven horizontal, aerofoil-shaped Fins are fixed at 45 degrees to absorb and reflect a proportion of the sun’s rays before they enter the laboratories, thereby limiting solar heat gain in the summer.
 The 300mm wide, extruded aluminium Fins are divided into two groups, with six rows of Fins arranged into a vertical stack at low level and a vertical stack of five Fins at high level.

With its unique design, the Infiniti Fin system features integral stainless steel fixings, allowing supports to be concealed within the Fins themselves. In contrast with traditional bird mouth/beak type fixings, this not only creates a neater, sleeker aesthetic, but also gives the Fins greater structural integrity, so they remain stable under the most extreme weather conditions. This is also achieved without the need for structural end plates, so the Fins can be cantilevered past the last support, giving them an attractive, continuous appearance.

Levolux also installed 50 sq metres of its Ventilation Louvres to create a highly ventilated, weather-resistant plantroom enclosure. Featuring ‘S’ profile extruded aluminium louvres, with a pitch of 75mm, the louvres combine to create an attractive, seamless aesthetic. The louvred facade incorporates double louvred doors, which allow access to the roof plantroom for maintenance and ongoing servicing.

To complete the solution, Levolux installed its ‘Z’ profile XL Screening Louvres at roof level, around one of two roof lights. Set at a pitch of 140mm, the extruded aluminium louvres are arranged into an attractive ‘U’ shaped vertical screen which has a total length of 15.4 metres and a maximum height of 3.2 metres.

The Infiniti Fin system, Ventilation Louvres and Screening Louvres from Levolux combine to enhance the building’s external envelope, by reducing solar heat gain, encouraging natural ventilation and creating a complementary aesthetic quality.

While the Fins and Ventilation Louvres were finished in a durable white grey and dark grey powder coating, respectively, the Screening Louvres have a cool satin silver anodised finish.

The Royal Veterinary College is the UK's first and largest veterinary school and a constituent College of the University of London. Thanks in part to Levolux’s contribution on the project, the building achieved a BREEAM (2010) rating of Very Good, reflecting the Royal Veterinary College’s ambition to realise a world-class, sustainable teaching and research facility.

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Levolux steps up for Passivhaus first

A new £1.5 million regional office for Interserve Construction in Leicester, equipped with an intelligent Levolux Solar Shading solution, becomes the first Zero Carbon commercial office development to be built in the UK, achieving Passivhaus accreditation.

The Passivhaus principle reduces a building’s energy consumption by up to 90%, compared with traditional construction methods. It relies on a highly insulated, air-tight envelope, use of passive heating and cooling methods, highly efficient mechanical ventilation and control of solar heat gain and daylight levels.

Following Interserve’s challenging brief, CPMG Architects and Couch Perry & Wilkes succeeded in bringing together these critical elements to deliver a 6,000 sq foot, two-storey office building, which can claim to be one of the most energy efficient in the UK.

The building’s south-facing elevation has full height, triple-glazed panels to maximise passive heating in the winter. This is only possible with the application of fully optimised, external Solar Shading. As the UK’s leading Solar Shading specialist, Levolux was approached to ensure project specific performance criteria were met to limit solar heat gain, as well as controlling glare and daylight levels.

The Levolux solution comprised of 20 motorised, external Venetian Blinds, arranged into two groups, with 10 Blinds on each floor. Each group of Blinds is connected to a standalone Levolux multi-controller, which automates the Blinds in accordance with readings from an external light and wind sensor. This intelligent configuration of external Venetian Blinds ensures they continue to function automatically at their peak efficiency and are retracted in high winds to prevent damage.

Each Venetian Blind is fitted into a bay measuring almost 2 metres in width, with a maximum drop of 2290mm, and is equipped with 80mm wide roll-formed solid aluminium slats, reinforced with black UV resistant ladder cords and lift tapes. When fully raised, the slats are concealed within an aluminium headbox, which measures 288mm high and 150mm deep and also houses the motor.

When the sun shines in the summer, the Blinds are automatically lowered and the slats closed to absorb and reflect the sun’s rays, protecting the building from excessive solar heat gain. As the sun’s rays weaken during the winter, the slats are gradually opened and can be fully raised to maximise passive heating and daylight levels.

As an additional benefit, the Blinds can also be set to close at night to insulate the building, helping to reduce night cooling, which is particularly beneficial during the winter months.

All aluminium components have been given an attractive dark grey gloss enamelled finish. The fully automated Venetian Blinds installed by Levolux for Interserve, are backed with the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

The new Passivhaus certified regional office for Interserve sets a new benchmark for commercial office developments in the UK and by maximising use of passive energy, such as the optimised Solar Shading solution from Levolux, the building delivers a very high level of comfort for occupants with very low energy consumption. In fact following installation of PV panels on the roof the project is now Caron Negative with an EPC rating of -2.

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Levolux brings back a ‘great’ Britton Street

Great Portland Estate’s 24 Britton Street, in central London has been transformed into a more attractive and sustainable property, thanks to a £3.7m refurbishment project, which included the addition of a striking new external Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

The regenerated five-storey building, which has achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, now features an impressive new entrance pavilion, reception facility and central atrium, along with an attractive new external envelope.

Working closely with Archer Architects, Levolux developed a bespoke Solar Shading solution to dramatically reduce solar heat gain and glare, while maximising daylight levels. The solution comprises fixed, external tubular Louvres and fully automated, external Tensioned Roller Blinds.

Almost 3500 oval-section, extruded aluminium, tubular Louvres create an external shading structure which wraps around the building, across the third and fourth floors. Each Louvre measures 51 mm wide by 40mm high, with a span of 1.8 metres. Fixed horizontally, the Louvres are grouped into 47 vertical stacks, each measuring almost 8 metres in height.  

The pitch of the Louvres in each stack varies. At high level, the Louvres are packed tightly together, with a pitch of just 60mm, but the pitch increases in increments up to 480mm at the centre of each floor. This unusual design not only creates an attractive external aesthetic, with waves of Louvres running up the building, but delivers the optimum level of shade for the second, third and fourth floors, whilst maximising daylight levels and providing occupants with good outward visibility.

All Louvres are finished in an eye-catching and highly durable bright red gloss powder coating, complementing the black and red colour scheme running throughout the building.

The building’s fifth floor, which offers excellent views across the city, also receives the most exposure to the sun, with few overlooking buildings. As a result this floor is at greatest risk of excessive solar heat gain, particularly in the summer. To help maintain a cool, comfortable environment for its occupants, Levolux applied its external, motorised Tensioned Roller Blinds at high level, around its perimeter.

In total, Levolux installed 53 motorised, external Tensioned Roller Blinds, each measuring 1.8 metres in width, with a drop of 1.3 metres, The Blinds are grouped into double and triple units, which are linked to a standalone programmable controller. This allows the Blinds to be raised and lowered automatically, taking into account readings from external light and wind speed sensors.

All external Blinds have an attractive dark grey screen fabric, which has an openness factor of 4%. This was selected for its solar performance and to maintain light levels. All exposed aluminium components are finished in a dark grey powder coating to complement the overall scheme.

Like all of Levolux’s solutions, the Louvres and Blinds installed at 24 Britton Street, are backed by the companys design, manufacture and installation package.

In stark contrast with its original 1970’s design, which was prone to excessive solar heat gain, 24 Britton Street has been transformed with the help of Levolux, for the benefit of its owners, the new occupants and the local community.

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