Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Levolux stands out in Stafford

Students at Stafford College are settling into a ‘cool’ new £14 million Riverbank Building which has been expertly designed to provide a comfortable environment whatever the temperature. Among the features incorporated to improve comfort and promote energy efficiency throughout the new building is an external Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

Replacing disused, fire-damaged workshops, the 56,000 sq foot building houses a three-storey library, state-of-the-art training facilities and salons for beauty therapy students, alongside training kitchens and new premises for the college bistro and restaurant.

Designed by CPMG Architects to achieve a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating, the ‘J’ shaped structure, which incorporates a Grade II listed building, occupies a prominent position overlooking Victoria Park to the south-west.

A curved red brick structure to the north-west is linked to a 33 metre long curtain-walled element, which features floor to ceiling glazing on each of its three levels.

This modern curtain-walled facade creates an interesting contrast with red brick and rendered facades, but more importantly, it is designed to allow daylight to flood into the building through to a central atrium space.
As the UK’s leading Solar Shading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a custom solution to be applied to the south-west facing elevation of the curtain walled element. This was needed not only to create an interesting external aesthetic but also to combat the risk of excessive solar heat gain.

If it wasn’t for an effective form of solar control, most of the heat energy from the sun, or ‘solar heat gain’, would be transmitted through the glazed envelope, warming the building. While some degree of heat gain is desirable in winter, it is best avoided in summer when internal temperatures can soar to uncomfortable and sometimes unhealthy levels.

To help control solar heat gain, thereby reducing the need for energy-sapping air conditioning, Levolux devised a solution comprising 64 Glass Fins. Arranged vertically in front of glazing, the Glass Fins are divided equally between first and second floor levels.
Image courtesy of Lightworks Photography
Each Fin comprises two panes of 8mm thick laminated glass, sandwiching a 1.5mm thick, white tinted interlayer. The Fins measure 450mm wide, with a height of up to 3.45 metres, fixed at 1 metre centres.

As a form of Brise Soleil, the Glass Fins provide effective, passive shading to limit solar heat gain. Their glass composition also maximises daylight levels, while presenting occupants with good outward views across to Victoria Park.

In addition to the Glass Fins, Levolux also installed roof plant Screening Panels, measuring 1 metre in height and with a combined length of 54.5 metres. The Screening Panels, finished in bright white, effectively conceal unsightly building services from view.
The Glass Fins and Screening Panels, like other Solar Shading and Screening systems available from Levolux, are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

Stafford College’s new Riverbank Building, with its Glass Fins from Levolux, was opened to great acclaim in November 2012. The cool building has already received a very warm response not only from students and lecturers but also from the wider community of Stafford.

For more information, please visit www.levolux.com.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Levolux makes a breakthrough in Kew

A new extension to the Jodrell Laboratory at Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, required a solar shading solution to protect the world-famous collection of plant and fungi specimens housed inside. Architects Wilkinson Eyre specified Western Red Cedar Timber Fins from market leader Levolux to achieve optimum indoor temperatures at the scientific research facility.

Dating back to 1877, the Jodrell Laboratory is a world-renowned centre for laboratory-based research into plant anatomy and cytogenetics. An important strand of the work carried out by scientists is into the use of plant resources for the benefit of humans, such as fighting illnesses like cancer, malaria and diabetes.

As one of the country’s key research facilities, Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory required more space as studies into plant and fungal diversity expanded. The Wolfson Wing extension was designed to provide additional laboratories, a mycology herbarium, extended desk space for visiting scientists, improved library facilities, and improved viewing access of the laboratory for the general public.

A brick building with timber cladding, the new extension increases the size of the existing laboratory from 3,000m2 to 5,200m2 over three floors. In order to improve the building’s environmental efficiency and protect it from solar heat gain, Wilkinson Eyre specified a vertically stacked Timber Fin solar shading system from Levolux.

Engineered from Western Red Cedar, renowned for its all-weather resilience and aesthetic properties, 300mm wide Timber Fins were installed across the Wolfson Wing’s exterior window bays to prevent the sun hitting the glass. Natural light is still filtered into the building and good outward visibility retained, whilst energy costs associated with air conditioning are greatly reduced.

A vertical stack of straight and curved fins were applied to each of the 14 bays of the structure. The curved timber louvres were cut at a compound angle, enabling them to follow continuously around the curved line of the building. This delivers clean, continuous lines, as the angled plane of the curved Fins ties in seamlessly with the straight Fins.
Within each bay, the Timber Fins were split vertically into two groups: one containing five fins, the other six. Levolux also installed its Walk-on Brise Soleil above and between the projecting Fins. These provide additional shading and enable easy access for window cleaning and routine maintenance.

Carefully controlled internal temperatures are now easier to maintain, thanks to the addition of Levolux’s Timber Fins. They complement the building’s passive ventilation system, ensuring that working conditions within the laboratories and herbarium are fit for purpose.

Wilkinson Eyre Associate Geoff Turner praised Levolux’s contribution, commenting: “The most distinctive feature of the new wing at Kew is the horizontal cedar cladding. It enables the windows on these elevations to draw natural light and fresh air into the laboratories and open plan office areas, opening them up to the gardens beyond. Externally, the whole of the south and west facades are shaded by inclined timber brise-soleil louvres, creating a light timber filigree.”

The solar shading solution is also enabling Kew to offer visitors superior internal viewing access by eliminating sun glare from interpretive signage and glass-fronted laboratory facilities, as well as helping the building to sit within its natural wooded surroundings.

In opening up its behind-the-scenes activities, the Royal Botanic Gardens will make science more accessible to the public and further establish its reputation as a centre for research and conservation.

For more information, please visit www.levolux.com.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Levolux picked for 'One' in Woking

Originally constructed in 1987, One Christchurch Way in Woking has undergone a comprehensive refurbishment to transform it into a landmark office development, boasting some outstanding features, including an external Solar Shading solution, courtesy of Levolux.

Project managed by CBRE, One Christchurch Way, formerly known as Chobham House, has been revamped, providing 25,000 sq feet of Grade A office space, arranged over four floors with significant glazing that extends along each elevation.

Following a challenging brief, CBRE Building Consultancy and Planning, and appointed architects IMA, were responsible for transforming and modernising the building’s envelope, with a focus on sustainability. In its original form, exposed glazing on south and east facing elevations made the building susceptible to excessive solar heat gain, particularly in the summer. When the sun shone, internal temperatures would soar to uncomfortable levels.
In these conditions, a building becomes dependent on air conditioning, just to maintain habitable conditions. Consequently the building’s energy consumption would increase significantly, burdening the occupier with higher operating costs and weakening the building’s appeal to prospective tenants.

To make the building more energy efficient and attractive to prospective tenants, Levolux was approached to develop a custom Solar Shading solution, applied externally to south and east-facing elevations. The addition of external solar shading would significantly reduce solar heat gain by absorbing and reflecting a proportion of the sun’s rays. It would also allow the removal of existing solar film from all windows, thereby improving the daylighting to the office floors.
The inclusion of passive cooling techniques also helped the developer to determine an accurate specification for a more cost-effective air conditioning system.

As a result it is estimated that the energy consumption of the building will be reduced by approximately 10%, helping to improve the building’s EPC rating from an F, to a B grading.
Working collaboratively with CBRE and IMA, Levolux devised a Solar Shading solution comprising horizontal aluminium tubes, incorporated into a series of vertical stacks, supported from an external steel frame. 

The arrangement of tubular Fins was inspired by Foster & Partners’ iconic More London development, where Levolux installed a striking array of 100mm diameter satin anodised aluminium tubes.
Striking array of Fins at Foster & Partners' More London Development
As an evolution of this original design, Levolux adapted its popular Infiniti Fin system, to accept 100mm diameter tubular aluminium Fins. The completed installation comprises three bays of 35 Fins installed in front of the east-facing elevation, each measuring 5.5 metres wide by 10.7 metres high, along with 3 more bays in front of the south-facing elevation, each measuring 7.5 metres wide by 10.7 metres high. 

The beauty of the Infiniti Fin system is that its fixings and supports are concealed within the Fin itself unlike other ‘birds-mouth’ style fixing arrangements. The Infiniti Fin system is synonymous among architects for creating clean, continuous, uninterrupted lines. This is achieved by Levolux’s skilled installation teams, quickly and efficiently using mechanical fixings, avoiding the environmental hazards associated with welding.

Ian McArdle from the architects IMA was pleased with Levolux’s performance, commenting: “We worked with Levolux from initial design sketches through to final installation and were delighted with both the process and the final product.  The installation of the solar shading screens exceeded our expectations.”
To complement the overall scheme, Levolux applied a satin anodised finish to the tubular Fins, allowing them to stand out against the dark grey support steelwork and cladding.

One Christchurch Way demonstrates how a previously tired and uninspiring office building can be dramatically revived into an ultra-modern, highly efficient property, partly thanks to the addition of a sleek new Solar Shading solution, by Levolux.

For more information, please visit www.levolux.com.