Friday, 25 January 2013

Levolux puts Lowry in the shade

Established for more than 12 years, the Lowry at Salford Quays in Salford is renowned as a world-leading Arts Venue with a distinctive, state-of-the-art Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

Its angular exterior, which is clad with cool glass and a stainless steel skin, gives the Lowry building a ship-like appearance which dominates Salford’s skyline. The development is arranged over multiple levels, with two theatres and a studio dedicated to performing arts and a museum displaying the works of LS Lowry.
Image courtesy of webbaviation
The Lowry building, which was designed by Michael Wilford and Partners, occupies a triangular shaped plot at the end of Pier 8, overlooking Salford Quays. Its opposing north-west and south-west facing elevations feature large expanses of double-height glazing which presented a particular challenge when it came to finding an effective Solar Shading solution.

Levolux was approached to devise a radical solution comprising their popular aerofoil-shaped Fins, a motorised Skyvane system and internal Roller Blinds. 

500mm deep extruded aluminium Fins are fixed horizontally along the south-west facing elevation, above a split level promenade that runs around the building. Here the Fins are angled at 90 degrees to provide the optimum sun cut-off angle in the summer. At these times, most of the heat from the sun’s rays is reflected and absorbed externally by the Fins, protecting the building against excessive solar heat gain.
On the north-west facing elevation 500mm deep aerofoil-shaped Fins are fixed vertically across double height glazing. Here the Fins are angled at 90 degrees to provide protection from excessive solar heat gain and glare levels caused by the low afternoon sun.  

The Fins are a critical element of the scheme as they help to improve the energy efficiency of the building by maintaining a comfortable, cool and naturally lit interior, while complementing the building’s overall appearance.
The Lowry building also features a series of 18 roof lights, which feed daylight deep into the galleries and circulation areas below. The priceless collection of LS Lowry paintings on display are preserved in ideal environmental conditions thanks to the application of Levolux’s motorised Skyvane system across each rooflight.

Fitted internally, the motorised Skyvane system features interlocking 75mm wide aluminium slats, which enable it to close out around 97% of daylight at the click of a switch.
In the same area, nine high level glazed openings, each with six windows measuring 2 metres in width, also required screening. To achieve optimum light control each window was fitted with a vertical aluminium louvre blind, a roller blind with sunscreening fabric to allow 8-10% light transmission and a blackout blind.
As a result, 162 blinds were installed all of which are motorised and have automatic as well as radio control. An infra-red control was ruled out because of the distances involved.

The comprehensive Solar Shading solution employed at the Lowry building works effectively, yet it is engineered with a meticulous attention to detail to satisfy a very challenging aesthetic requirement. 

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Levolux protects treasures in Norwich

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, one of the city’s most prominent landmarks, maintains optimum conditions to exhibit important works of fine art, with the help of an external Solar Shading solution, courtesy of Levolux.

The Grade I Listed Building, which dates from the 11th century, was converted into a museum in 1895 and has since benefited from numerous refurbishments and fit-outs. This included the addition of solar control at high level across glazed rooflights.
Working in collaboration with Purcell Miller Tritton Architects, Levolux developed a custom Solar Shading solution comprising its motorised external Skyvane 675 system, to provide effective light control for two large galleries.

In all, 17 separate Skyvane sections, with sizes up to 4.8m wide by 1.7m deep, were employed externally above the two galleries. The 675 system was chosen for the project as it incorporates interlocking extruded aluminium louvres that are designed to provide a high level of dim-out in addition to light control. This was essential since, in the gallery environment, critical control of lux levels and ultraviolet is required to avoid damage to the exhibits.
The system has lux sensors strategically placed within the gallery areas which are linked to a Levolux control system that automatically moves the slats so the light entering the galleries is precisely regulated. A manual override allows the slats to be set to any required position, which means that they may be closed at night or regulated to create the right ambience for public events.

An added consideration was the age of the roof lights and their relatively fragile structure. To ensure structural integrity was not compromised, Levolux designed custom brackets. Internally the system is screened by feature panels of stained glass beneath the roof lights at ceiling level.
The Skyvane system is designed to work effectively, even when exposed to adverse weather such as rain, wind or snow. As a result, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery continues to preserve its collection of fine works of art and historic artefacts for the enjoyment of the public throughout the year and for many years to come.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Levolux shines at Fabrica

A new speculative office development in Manchester known as Fabrica, draws admiring glances from onlookers, thanks to its striking external screening solution, from the UK’s leading specialist, Levolux.

Fabrica, named in honour of the area’s textile heritage, provides 21,000 sq ft of BREEAM Excellent office space, arranged over five floors. Developed by Royal London Asset Management and designed by 5Plus architects, Fabrica is part of a wider regeneration project in central Manchester.

The imposing office building, which sits adjacent to a new 150-room Ibis hotel, stands out from neighbouring buildings with its gold perforated exterior. As is customary with modern office developments, there is an abundance of full-height glazing to maximise daylight levels. External window treatment was required on exposed elevations to increase privacy and comfort levels for occupants, and to create a distinctive external aesthetic.
Image courtesy of 5Plus Architects
Breaking with conventional design protocol, Levolux worked to a challenging brief to develop a radical screening solution. The custom solution needed to integrate seamlessly with the curtain walling, create an attractive exterior and provide occupants with good outward visibility.

An impressive array of perforated aluminium panels dress the building on two elevations. The attractive perforated screen extends from first floor level to cover an area 60 metres wide by 15 metres high, wrapping around the building’s south-west and north-west elevations. Each panel is engineered from 3mm thick aluminium sheet and decorated with hexagonal and circular perforations.

The perforated panels not only create an interesting external aesthetic but also reduce solar heat gain by absorbing and reflecting some of the sun’s rays before they can pass through glazed openings. This allows occupants to benefit from a naturally cool and comfortable environment, without the need for air conditioning.
Image courtesy of 5Plus Architects
By developing a series of design templates, the perforated panels combine together to create an interesting pattern which screens the building from the outside, but allows good outward visibility. The building’s exterior, with its dazzling gold anodised perforated panels, brightens up the Manchester skyline.

Directly behind the perforated panels, running horizontally on four levels in front of the glazing is a series of galvanised steel mesh walkways. Measuring 750mm wide, the walkways are integrated into the screening installation and provide a useful means of access for regular maintenance and cleaning of windows.

The screening solution, complete with integral walkways, is anchored back to the curtain walling using Levolux’s revolutionary Triniti® Bracket. The decision to incorporate the Triniti Bracket was an easy one, since it is the only curtain walling bracket that effectively prevents cold bridging and minimises noise transmission through the building envelope.
Image courtesy of 5Plus Architects
To complete the solution, Levolux also installed its Ventilation Louvres extensively at roof level and on several elevations to screen unsightly plant and equipment from view.

Formed using ‘S’ profile louvre blades, fixed at a pitch of 75mm with a mesh backing, the Louvred sections create a protected, ventilated enclosure where plant and equipment can operate efficiently. The Louvres installed by Levolux, including those applied to single and double doors, are all finished in a durable dark grey powder coating.

As the UK’s only speculative office development outside London, Fabrica, with its eye-catching gold screening solution from Levolux, reflects Manchester’s growing confidence and will help fuel the city’s economic recovery.

For more information, visit and for more information about the development please visit