Monday, 30 June 2014

Levolux brings a 'smile' to Birkenhead

The award-winning St Catherine’s Health Centre in Birkenhead, dubbed ‘The Smile’ for the way its façade - with a Solar Shading solution from Levolux – curves around the adjacent church, is already making a positive impact on healthcare provision in Birkenhead.

The £32 million landmark development brings together a range of NHS services, including community physiotherapy, sexual health and heart services along with X-Ray facilities and GP practices, to create a state-of-the-art healthcare centre for the benefit of the local community.

Designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating by design firm One Creative Environments Ltd, the 11,100m2, four-storey development utilises cutting-edge technology, including heat recovery systems, rainwater harvesting and external solar shading to its east-facing elevation.

As the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was tasked with developing a custom solution to be applied externally, against the curved east-facing elevation, which accommodates a full height internal street that connects five wings.
The solution comprises six bays of horizontal Aerofoil Fins, each measuring 400mm wide, with free spans of up to 8 metres. In total, Levolux installed 966 metres of extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins, which are faceted to accommodate the curved façade.

All Fins are arranged horizontally, incorporated into vertical stacks, set at a pitch of 525mm. To deliver the optimum level of solar shading across the glazed curtain walling, all Fins are fixed at an angle of 45 degrees. This ensures internal temperatures remain naturally cool, even in the height of summer, while maximising daylight levels and allowing good outward visibility.

The Aerofoil Fins are secured between structural aluminium end caps, which are fixed back to steelwork. The Fins appear continuous, thanks to the inclusion of a curved aluminium infill piece that links each Fin horizontally, across the steel support posts.
All Aerofoil Fins have been given an attractive and durable powder coating, with a matt grey finish. The complete solution is backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package, along with a three year warranty.

The curved east-facing elevation, with its impressive array of horizontal Aerofoil Fins, overlooks a new public area, with the Grade II listed St Catherine’s Church at its centre. The Fins are a distinctive and highly popular feature of the building, while the natural curve and form of its layout has inspired the ‘smile’ nickname that has been adopted as an affectionate term of reference for the building.

St Catherine’s Health Centre has been praised for its innovative design, cost effective delivery and not least for the positive impact it has had on the local community. 
By bringing together a host of energy efficient products, including Levolux’s Aerofoil Fins, the public-private partnership development convinced a panel of industry experts to judge it as the Best Healthcare Project in 2011 and Best Designed Project at this year’s Partnerships Awards 2014. 

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Levolux minds the gaps in London

London’s Blackfriars Station has been transformed as part of Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme. As part of this, the station now boasts a new northern entrance, which is equipped with an external Solar Shading solution, from Levolux.

The station, which first opened in 1886, has been expanded to increase capacity and as a result becomes the first mainline station to span the River Thames. In addition to a new station on the south bank, a new combined entrance was also created on the north bank, allowing easy access to National Rail and London Underground services.
The new northern entrance, which stands more than 17 metres tall, has a modern, curved glazed envelope. Its appearance contrasts dramatically with the station’s original Victorian façade, which was constrained and starved of natural daylight. The glazed structure is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also maximises daylight levels throughout the station.

Jacobs, the lead designer on the project, worked closely with Levolux to develop a custom external solar shading solution to be applied across the glazed façade of the station’s northern entrance. This would need to perform four critical functions. To create a distinctive and attractive external aesthetic, to reduce solar heat gain, prevent excessive glare and maintain a high level of transparency and openness.
The solution comprises an array of fixed extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins, arranged horizontally across 30 bays. Each Aerofoil Fin, measuring 140mm wide with a free span of 2 metres, is secured between 100mm wide aluminium side plates. The bays of Fins are faceted, allowing them to follow the curvature of the building as it arcs from north to west. 

The number of Fins fitted to each bay varies, from just 14 in bays facing furthest north, increasing to 65 Fins in bays facing west and in five south-facing bays that continue around a corner.
The same Aerofoil Fins have also been incorporated into a horizontal projection just inside the entrance to the station. Here, the Fins are angled vertically, secured between side plates to form an overhead screen measuring 6.8 metres in length by 1.7 metres deep.

In addition, Levolux also supplied and installed its XL Matrix Screening Louvres, featuring an attractive ‘Z’ profile, to screen a roof plantroom. The Louvres are applied to two elevations, fixed at a pitch of 140mm to create a 3 metre high screen, with a combined length of more than 65 metres. The louvred screens appear continuous, concealing five double louvred doors and one single louvred door.

To complete the solution, Levolux applied its High Performance VLS50 Ventilation Louvres along a south-facing façade above the station’s office accommodation. Louvres feature a sleek ‘S’ profile, backed with bird mesh to create a well ventilated, yet weather-proof façade, measuring 3.2 metres in height by 26 metres in length.
All Aerofoil Fins have been given an attractive silver natural anodised finish, while other aluminium components feature a durable silver grey powder coated finish.

The newly renovated Blackfriars Station has been acclaimed as a considerable achievement. More than 44,000 passengers a day now pass through the station, and for those using its northern entrance, with its impressive glass enclosure, wrapped in a Solar Shading solution from Levolux, their journey will be all the more comfortable.

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Monday, 2 June 2014

Levolux brightens up Bedford

Following a major refurbishment project, the Allhallows multi-storey car park in Bedford has been given a new lease of life, with energy efficient lighting, solar PV panels and a bright external screening solution from Levolux.

The car park, which was built in 1960, was renowned as one of Bedford’s ugliest. However, in 2013, Bedford Borough Council had plans approved to encompass it into a wider regeneration project, to build a new bus station and improve the surrounding area.

The multi-storey car park required significant repairs to its core structure, along with a new façade that would need to perform effectively in terms of optimising ventilation while being pleasing to the eye.

As the UK’s leading solar shading and screening specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a solution comprising extruded aluminium Vertical Fins, applied to south and west-facing elevations.

In total, Levolux installed 600 triangular-shaped Fins, arranged vertically. The Fins, each measuring 300mm wide by 65mm thick, are fixed at 650mm centres, set at an angle of 20 degrees from the face of the building.

The Fins combine to create an impressive screen, measuring 94 metres long, by 12 metres high. All Fins have been given a durable powder coating, in one of four contrasting colours, from white and pastel blue, to pastel green and light green.

Following a repeating pattern, the Fins create an interesting focal point in the town centre, resembling waves of colour that extend along the building, obscuring the view of unsightly structures.

The newly renovated Allhallows car park, with its colourful screening solution from Levolux, has been transformed into an attractive, well-lit and comfortable parking amenity, for the benefit of Bedford’s residents and visitors. It also marks the start of a regeneration project that will leave a positive legacy for future generations. 

For more information, please visit