Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Levolux Walks On The Wild Side

WWF-UK recently moved from its base in Godalming, to its new home in Woking, Surrey. Known as the Living Planet Centre, the landmark building, with its distinctive arching roof, boasts a fully automated, internal Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

The two-storey, 39,557 sq ft headquarters development for WWF-UK was designed by Hopkins Architects to achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating - the highest classification of sustainable design achievable in the UK.

In essence, the building works in harmony with its urban-rural setting, exploiting the latest sustainable development principles. This includes ground-source heating, a system to recycle fresh water and a dynamic solar shading system that controls light, heat and glare.

To maximise daylight levels throughout the building, rooflights are used extensively, with a total of 112 glazed openings. To allow control of daylight, heat and glare levels, Levolux designed a solar shading solution applying fabric blinds to suit the unique nature of the building.
Levolux was approached at an early stage, working collaboratively with architects to develop a highly effective and flexible solar shading solution. This comprised a combination of fixed fabric panels and a series of single and double Roller Blinds, applied internally along the length of the building’s 80 metre long diagrid roof structure.

All Roller Blinds supplied and installed by Levolux at the WWF-UK building are motorised, with an intelligent control system ensuring optimum deployment, taking into account the position of the sun and daylight levels at any given time. This helps to maintain a naturally lit and comfortable internal environment.

Responding to a challenging brief, Levolux fitted a variety of different types of tensioned fabric blinds, including fixed fabric panels which occupy 14 unusually shaped openings, 72 single motorised Roller Blinds distributed across all areas, and 6 double motorised Roller Blinds located centrally at the northern end of the building. Levolux also fitted 40 of its 780 motorised Roller Blinds vertically in office areas.

The double Roller Blinds combine a white fabric, with a 3% openness factor, as featured on all other blinds, with a specialist ‘black-out’ fabric fitted above this. The combination of the two fabrics ensures very precise control of daylight levels in a 150-seat auditorium.
The new WWF-UK building was opened on 1st November 2013 by Sir David Attenborough and has been critically acclaimed as one of the most eco-friendly developments in the UK. By benefiting from a host of energy efficient features, such as the automated internal Roller Blinds from Levolux, around 300 workers who now occupy the building are likely to agree.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Levolux keeps 'The Wilson' cool

Following a £6.3 million renovation project, The Wilson - Cheltenham’s Art Gallery & Museum - has opened to national acclaim, featuring a unique solar shading solution from Levolux.

Architects from Berman Guedes Stretton were awarded the task of designing an extension to the art gallery and museum, now known as ‘The Wilson’, back in 2007 following a RIBA Design Competition. Having successfully negotiated a challenging planning process, including gaining Conservation Area approval, the eagerly anticipated development has finally been realised.

The four-storey building extends the art gallery and museum, accommodating a new main entrance, galleries for temporary and permanent exhibitions, storage and workshop areas, a café and a roof terrace. The landmark building also becomes home to the town’s tourist information office.
The building’s south-facing elevation, with its modern glazed exterior, required an effective form of solar control to protect delicate artefacts against exposure to direct sunlight and to ensure galleries and circulation areas remain naturally lit, without succumbing to excessive solar heat gain. By limiting the need for mechanical cooling and air conditioning, the solar shading solution will also help to reduce carbon emissions and minimise running costs.

Levolux, the UK’s leading solar shading and screening specialist, was invited to develop a comprehensive solution, comprising an arrangement of fixed Louvres applied horizontally across the façade, along with a series of internal double roller blinds. While the external Louvres provide effective shading, they were also required to appear sympathetic to the existing 19th century period architecture that the area is renowned for.

Working closely with the architects, Levolux helped to translate the client’s initial plans, into a cost-effective solution. Levolux’s final design, which satisfies project specific requirements, includes the use of tubular ceramic ‘baguettes’ to reflect the site’s heritage in arts and crafts.
In total, Levolux installed 194 tubular ceramic louvres, each measuring 75mm in diameter. The ceramic louvres, which were supplied with a white gloss, glazed finish, are reinforced by a stainless steel bar running through the centre of each louvre. The louvres are fixed horizontally, incorporated into four vertical stacks, secured between profile-cut aluminium side plates.

Set to the left of the main entrance extending 9.6 metres from first floor to fourth floor level, is a 3.2 metre wide vertical stack of ceramic louvres fixed at a pitch of 300mm. The open pitch of the louvres is designed to maximise daylight levels throughout the entrance and into circulation areas and stairwells.

Immediately above the main entrance is a series of three vertical stacks of ceramic louvres, also extending 9.6 metres up to roof level. The louvres within these 2.4 metre wide vertical stacks are fixed at a pitch of just 150mm. This results in greater light exclusion where it is required for galleries, but still allows occupants to maintain visible contact with the outside.

To prevent unwanted ingress of birds through the louvred façade, particularly between louvres set at a pitch of 300mm, stainless steel wires have been incorporated. The horizontal, sprung loaded wires are secured to aluminium side plates.
The projecting louvred façade is completed by a 7.2 metre long by 480mm high aluminium sign, which was also provided by Levolux. Letters formed from 20mm thick foamex material, spell out the museum’s new name to the public.

The ceramic ‘baguette’ louvres are guaranteed to be weather and frost resistant, and will not fade over time, while all aluminium components are finished in a durable dark grey powder coating.

To complement the external Louvres, Levolux supplied and installed 21 of its internal Slimlock Blinds. Double roller blinds, which are either fully automated or electrically operated, have been applied to south-facing openings. This allows anti-glare fabric to be used in front, while a black-out fabric ensures maximum light exclusion, as required. The Black-Out fabric travels between low-profile side-guides, held securely by a ‘zip’ type insert.
The landmark building, which was named ‘The Wilson’ in honour of the explorer Dr Edward Wilson, officially opened on 5th October. The renovated and extended art gallery and museum, with its attractive ceramic louvres and double roller blinds, has been transformed into one of the countries’ most impressive venues for hosting national and international touring exhibitions.

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Levolux Changes Gear In Swindon

A new state-of-the-art, multi-storey car park is about to open in the centre of Swindon, boasting a revolutionary terracotta screening solution from Levolux.

The 850 space multi-storey car park is one of several new buildings to be completed as part of the first phase of the ‘Kimmerfields’ project, a £350 million regeneration scheme that will revive Swindon’s central business district.

Breaking with convention, Robin Partington Architects designed the 7-storey car park not only to facilitate safe and convenient access for vehicles and pedestrians, but also to equip it with an attractive, yet highly efficient external envelope.
Levolux was approached, as the UK’s leading solar shading and screening specialist, to develop a custom screening solution for the car park. The solution comprises vertical aluminium and terracotta fins, arranged differently on each elevation to satisfy specific performance criteria.

The vertical Fins help to protect the core structure from excessive weathering, while providing shade to occupants and their vehicles. From the outside, the contrasting warm terracotta and cool aluminium vertical Fins create a unique aesthetic, setting it apart from other car parks.

Levolux adapted its popular Infiniti Fin system to integrate vertical extruded aluminium Fins with red terracotta Fins, applied across all four elevations. In total, Levolux supplied almost 5800 linear metres of terracotta Fin and more than 3000 linear metres of aluminium Fins.

Vertical aluminium Fins, set at 1.25 metre centres are fitted with bespoke wishbone brackets at 3 metre intervals, aligned with each floor level. The brackets feature two support arms, radiating out from each side of the aluminium Fin, which are attached to vertical terracotta Fins.

On the south-facing elevation the aluminium Fin is rectangular, measuring 100mm deep by 500mm wide. Two terracotta Fins, each measuring 100mm deep by 425mm wide are fixed alongside the aluminium Fin, using custom wishbone brackets. The alignment of the Fins ensures they deliver optimum shading while creating a clean, undulating façade.
 On other elevations the aluminium Fin is bullet-shaped, measuring 100mm deep by 300mm wide. Two terracotta Fins, each measuring 100mm deep by 300mm wide are fixed at an angle, each side of the aluminium Fin using custom wishbone brackets. The open angle of the terracotta Fins allows more daylight to penetrate the car park in these areas.
To complement the array of alternating aluminium and terracotta Fins, Levolux fitted its bullet-shaped vertical aluminium Fins, each measuring 300mm deep by 100mm wide, across glazed stairwells and around access ramps.

The installation was completed with the addition of two perforated aluminium screening panels, fitted to the east and west elevations. Each panel extends 18 metres from ground floor level up to roof level. A 4.2 metre wide panel, comprised of 24 individual sheets has been applied to the east elevation, while a 1.5 metre wide panel, comprised of 12 individual sheets has been applied to the west elevation.

The perforations on each sheet are precisely arranged in a pattern that combines with others to resemble the silhouette of trees that are projected across the full height of the car park.
All aluminium components have been given a durable, natural anodised finish, with galvanised steel brackets. To prevent unwanted ingress of birds through openings, a stainless steel rope mesh has been incorporated behind the vertical Fins.

This impressive car park screening solution from Levolux, which follows similar schemes in London, High Wycombe, Liverpool and Gibraltar, demonstrates a shift in car park design to replace the concrete carbuncles of the past, with public amenities that we can be proud of in the future.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Levolux secures Blinds at Victoria

When office workers move into the new landmark office development at 62 Buckingham Gate, in London’s Victoria district, they’ll be relieved to find that each of its eleven floors is equipped with Levolux’s 760SX controlled ascent Roller Blinds.

As the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was approached to supply and install more than 1,500 manual Roller Blinds to eleven floors of this BREEAM ‘excellent’ rated development. Having already impressed with its delivery of a custom roof screening enclosure with integrated photovoltaic panels, Levolux was the natural choice to fulfil the internal solar shading requirements.
62 Buckingham Gate is central to Land Securities’ regeneration of Victoria, which will transform an area stretching east from Victoria Station, along Victoria Street. It is an eleven storey mixed-use development, offering 256,970 sq ft of prime office space, with 15,250 sq ft reserved for street level shops and restaurants.

Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and Swanke Hayden Connell architects, the new development boasts surprisingly large floor plates, with floor to ceiling glazing allowing daylight to penetrate into the core of the building.

Unlike traditional office buildings, which tend to have a uniform external envelope with a vertical facade, 62 Buckingham Gate resembles a prism-like structure with a multifaceted glazed façade, accommodating fine creases or folds, and tilting planes.
The tilting and tapered nature of the glazing on each floor is unique and introduced a challenging 3-dimensional aspect to overcome when designing the position and deployment of each Roller Blind, particularly when negotiating corners and crease lines. A bespoke bottom bar retainer has been used to incline each Blind inwards or outwards, as required to bring the Blinds into alignment with the glazed envelope.
Once each Roller Blind has been lowered to the desired position, the bottom bar and bead chain are then hooked into place to secure the blind. Each Blind is fitted with an automatic braking system to prevent excessive stress on components. A controlled ascent feature raises the Blinds automatically should the bottom bar and bead chain become disengaged from the retainer.
The fabric selected for the Blinds provides the optimum balance between transmitting and reflecting light energy to maximise daylight levels, reduce glare and to control solar heat gain. The cool grey fabric, with its 3% openness factor, allows occupants to maintain visual contact with the outside environment, which is proven to create a healthy and productive working environment.

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