Thursday, 28 June 2012

Levolux masterpiece creates thePlace to be

Levolux, the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, has created a true artistic masterpiece at Sunderland’s award-winning commercial development, thePlace. The result is a stunning façade that provides a new iconic landmark, following a £130m regeneration of the town’s Sunniside area.

Designed by Reid Jubb Brown architects, thePlace involved the integration of six Grade II listed Georgian terrace buildings, linked together to a new building. It is made instantly recognisable by its eye-catching façade, which features two banks of forty three screen printed, rotatable Glass Louvres, located at first and second floor levels.

Fabricated and installed by Levolux and stylised by local artist Kathryn Hodgkinson, each Glass Louvre is 420mm wide and 2.1m high and comprises of two panes of clear glass, sandwiching a screen printed laminate. The effect, when the Louvres are in the fully closed position, is a stunning translucent mural that celebrates the area’s rich cultural and architectural heritage, notably Sunderland’s history of glass making. At night, lights located in the cills backlight the translucent mural, creating a truly unique aesthetic.
The Glass Louvres are designed to automatically rotate in relation to the position of the sun – opening and closing as the sun moves round the building. This feature can be manually overridden and is linked to a Building Management System (BMS) interface.

Levolux’s solution was completed by dark grey powder coated aluminium housings and specially designed motors, which rotate beyond 180° to enable easy cleaning to both sides of each Glass Louvre.

Ben Hall, director of Sunniside Partnership – the organisation leading the area’s regeneration programme - said: “A key objective from the beginning of thePlace project was to collaborate with an artist to integrate an artwork piece into the building design. The Glass Louvre system located on the front of the building provided the ideal canvas for this opportunity.”

thePlace has provided Sunniside with its own state-of-the-art business and arts centre, accommodating performance space, art gallery/exhibition spaces, a café, meeting rooms and a range of business suites and artists` studios. Opened to great acclaim in late 2008, its tenants include a college department, photography and film companies, plus an architectural firm.
Recognising its sympathetic, yet innovative design, thePlace has picked up a string of prestigious awards, including:

·    The Journal Landmark Award Best Office 2008
·    The Journal Landmark Environmental runner-up
·    Sunderland City Council Building of Excellence
·    Sunderland Civic Trust Award

All Levolux solar shading systems are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package, along with a three year warranty.

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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Levolux takes care in Surrey

When Anchor proposed a new £30 million development to create its first ‘Care Leadership’ home in an area of Green Belt land in Surrey, it chose to maximise the use of naturally effective building technology, including a Timber Fin Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

Designed by Atkins to achieve a BREEAM “Very Good” rating, West Hall Care Home is unlike any other care home, firstly for its rural setting, with open green spaces interrupted by woodland and natural water features, and secondly for its use of energy efficient, low carbon technology.

The development comprises three individual clusters of oval-shaped buildings, each arranged over three floors topped by sweeping green roofs, providing specialist accommodation for up to 117 residents.

Each building is specifically orientated to maximise natural daylight on south-facing elevations. Full-height glazing ensures natural daylight penetrates deep into the building, through open-plan communal areas, into the living areas beyond.
A naturally effective Solar Shading solution was essential to prevent excessive solar heat gain from occurring throughout the year. This is most noticeable in the summer, when solar heat gain, if not controlled, can raise internal temperatures to uncomfortable levels and increases a building’s dependency on expensive air conditioning.

As the UK’s leading Solar Shading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a custom solution for the care home, following a challenging architectural brief.

The solution comprises three rows of 400mm deep by 50mm thick elliptical section Timber Fins, fixed vertically at 560mm centres, across the south elevation of each oval-shaped cluster. Each Timber Fin facade, which is inclined at an angle of 15 degrees, is supported from a series of single-piece Timber Columns, creating 11 bays on each elevation.
The Timber Columns, each measuring 400mm in width, tapering down to 250mm at each end, range in length, from 5.3 metres at each end, up to an impressive 10.2 metres at the centre of each cluster. This allows the columns to tie-in with the arcing roofline, while maintaining a constant pitch of 15 degrees.

Unlike the Timber Fins, which are only applied to south-facing elevations, the Timber Columns are also fitted to north-facing elevations, in front of full length balconies with glass-fronted balustrades. A series of stainless steel wires have been fixed horizontally between the columns, providing a framework to support climbing plants as they grow.
In total, Levolux installed 777 Timber Fins and 72 Timber Columns, divided equally between the three oval-shaped clusters, all engineered from untreated Western Red Cedar, graded as No.2 clear and better. All timber supplied by Levolux for this project was derived from sustainable sources, which is FSC certified with a full chain of custody.
The Timber Fins are fixed to horizontal, galvanised steel beams, using aluminium brackets which are finished in a dark grey powder coating, which complements the overall scheme.

Like all Solar Shading solutions provided by Levolux, the Timber Fins and Columns installed at West Hall Care Home are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

Now complete, the West Hall Care Home, with its striking Timber Fins and Columns, from Levolux, will provide highly sustainable, energy efficient and comfortable accommodation, which will enhance the lives of its elderly residents.

For more information, visit

Monday, 11 June 2012

Levolux weaves its magic for residents

Residents of this London apartment building benefit from an innovative series of stainless steel screens, created from woven mesh by Levolux, leaders in the design, manufacture and installation of Solar Shading solutions.

New River Village, developed by St James Homes, has been designed to reflect a unique mix of art, architecture and landscape. To maximise use of light and space, the corner apartments were designed to incorporate a striking floor to ceiling glazed façade. 

The architects invited Levolux to create an external Solar Shading solution that would fit in with the bold statement of the building's architecture. The solution would need to satisfy four challenging requirements.

The first was to provide an effective privacy screen for residents, obscuring views into the apartments from the street below and opposing buildings. Secondly, it would need to control daylight levels to ensure maximum daylight can penetrate the building. Thirdly, the solution would need to reduce solar heat gain, allowing the apartments to remain naturally cool and comfortable, particularly in the height of summer. Finally, its aesthetic quality needed to be distinctive, yet complementary to the overall scheme. 

Drawing on its unrivalled experience and specialist expertise, Levolux proposed a solution comprising a series of vertical, part rotating stainless steel woven mesh screens.
 The new woven stainless steel mesh screens are yet another first for Levolux, proving that the company can provide unique screening and shading solutions to meet almost any architectural challenge.
Produced in banks of 3 to 5 screens, 700mm wide, they run the full length of four floors. Shaped into fins on the interior, they sit flat against the glass balustrade of the apartment balconies. As required, the occupants can manually turn the screens to provide views over the surrounding area and increase light into the apartment. 
“The screens provide the occupants with privacy whilst ensuring that maximum light into the building is achieved. They also help to enhance the individual character of the building,” commented a spokesperson for St  James Homes. 

Like all systems from Levolux the screens are virtually maintenance free and are backed with the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

For more information, please visit our website at

Friday, 1 June 2012

Levolux makes it big in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and boasts some of the finest hotels in the Middle East, including a new five-star luxury hotel, which features a host of extravagant fixtures and fittings, including a unique internal Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

The iconic hotel occupies one of five towers, scaling 280 metres in height. It accommodates 382 rooms and suites, 199 serviced residences and a variety of exceptional leisure and conferencing facilities. The hotel’s central lobby is home to a sophisticated bar and a number of exquisite restaurants and provides an enviable vantage point, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and the world-famous Corniche.

Australian based architect, DBI Design was responsible for designing the building’s exterior, interior and landscaping. Following a challenging brief, Levolux worked collaboratively with the architect and the client to develop a custom Solar Shading solution to be applied internally against the south-facing elevation of the central lobby.

With its 20 metre high, curved, fully glazed exterior, the split-level lobby is exposed for long periods each day, to a fierce Arabian sun. In this region the sun’s rays are around twice as powerful as those received in central Europe, so the application of solar control is essential just to make buildings habitable, let alone comfortable.

To combat excessive solar heat gain and glare levels, Levolux created a unique solution comprising a series of fully automated, motorised, tensioned Roller Blinds. In total, Levolux provided 50 Blinds, each measuring 1.8 metres wide, with a drop of 20 metres. The scale of the installation is all the more impressive considering that the building’s glazing is not only curved on a horizontal plane, but is also inclined outwards at an angle of 15 degrees.

The motorised Roller Blinds, which are unguided, have twin drums at high level. One drum carries the fabric and another, which is fitted with an integral tensioning spring, is used to spool stainless steel tension cables. Stainless steel cables are connected to the hem bar of each Blind and then pass back around return pulleys to maintain constant tension.
Organised into nine zones or groups, Blinds are connected to standalone programmable controllers which take account of the position of the sun on any given day. A light sensor, positioned at high level, also allows the Blinds to respond to changing light levels. These features ensure optimum control of glare and daylight levels throughout the each day.

For ease of use, a single tough-screen user interface allows authorised personnel to adjust the position of the Blinds as required, by selecting from a number of pre-programmed settings. These settings are designed to bring the Blinds together simultaneously and silently, forming an interesting pattern or simply to deploy or raise all Blinds, as required.

To maintain precise alignment between Blinds, state-of-the-art motors and laser-guided tracking devices are fitted at high level to monitor each Blind’s position. Even allowing for a drop of almost 20 metres, Levolux was able to configure the Blinds, so that the hem bars of Blinds stopped at a pre-set position are aligned with a tolerance of just 5mm.

Blinds are slightly staggered in alignment and tapered in width from top to bottom to minimise the shadow gap and to maintain a uniform distance between each Blind.
To complement the overall scheme, all Blinds are equipped with a durable, light grey fabric, which is highly resistant to dirt and fading.

This landmark development in Abu Dhabi has a unique architectural design which sets it apart from all others. The application of motorised, tensioned Roller Blinds from Levolux will ensure that guests and visitors can enjoy a light but cool interior, while taking in the spectacular outside views. 

For more information, visit