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Article Date: 27th April 2016

Levolux - Touches Down at the ESA

European Space Agency - Solar Shading - External Venetian Blinds

Levolux - ESA UK Branch

The £12 million Roy Gibson building, which will host the European Space Agency’s (ESA) UK branch – the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), has been fitted with an adaptable solar shading solution, courtesy of Levolux.

Located on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, the 4,500m² Roy Gibson building accommodates cellular offices, a lecture theatre, gymnasium and a canteen area, arranged over five-storeys.

British architects Wilson Mason adapted a German design to create a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rated building. The building incorporates a host of innovative, energy-saving technologies, including ground source heat exchangers and a fully automated solar shading solution from Levolux.

Following a challenging brief, Levolux developed a custom solar shading and screening solution, applied internally and externally.

A combination of external Venetian blinds and curved Aerofoil Fins have been incorporated into the façade, providing shade to office areas and the building’s reception and conference wing, respectively.

In total, Levolux supplied and installed 411 external, motorised Specialist Venetian Blinds, against glazed openings to office areas. The external blinds feature 60mm wide, perforated, roll-formed aluminium slats. The horizontal slats are protected by vertical tensioned cable guides, enabling them to withstand typical weather conditions. To maximise performance, the external Venetian blinds are paired with a stand-alone, fully programmable control system.

Levolux - Roy Gibson BuildingThe control system takes readings from external sensors and automatically adjusts the height and angle of the slats to create the optimum environment for occupants at any given time. If the wind speed exceeds a threshold then the blinds are automatically retracted into head boxes for protection.

With solar heat gain under control, there is significantly less need for expensive heating and cooling systems.

In addition to the external Venetian blinds, Aerofoil Fins have also been installed externally against a curved, glazed façade for a two-storey reception and conference centre. The aerofoil-shaped Fins, each measuring 350mm wide by 60mm thick, are arranged into a series of vertical stacks.

The extruded aluminium Fins, which have been precisely curved to follow the contours of the building, are incorporated into fixed between side plates, creating a series of panels. The curved panels, with horizontal curved Fins, combine to form an effective, passive shading structure. This prevents excessive solar heat gain, while maximising daylight levels.

Continuing externally, Levolux also provided an attractive, yet highly ventilated screening solution for a roof plant area. Levolux’s popular XL Screening Louvres were specified, with their ‘Z’ profile, to create a vertical louvred screen, standing 1.6 metres high. The screening louvres, which are set at a pitch of 140mm, combine to form a rectangular screen, extending 55 metres in length and 9 metres in width.

Levolux also provided its high performance HP50 Ventilation Louvres, incorporated into 4 panels, each measuring 940mm wide by 740mm high. The ‘S’ profile louvres are used to create a weather-resistant, naturally ventilated façade. The louvres can also be fitted with birdmesh for additional protection.

Moving internally, Levolux was invited to supply and install 477 internal roller blinds.

26 motorised Slimlock blinds were incorporated into the scheme. Each blind can be operated using a wireless handset and is fitted with side-guides for increased stability.

Levolux - Roy Gibson BuildingLevolux’s Slimlock blind system provides maximum light exclusion at the flick of a switch, thanks to brush-fitted, ‘zipped’ side channels and a squeeze bead fitted to the hem bar. A specialist ‘black-out’ fabric was chosen, in a range of complementary colours.

Levolux’s 780 manual roller blinds were also used, with 451 blinds fitted throughout the building. The blinds, which feature a cool grey fabric with an openness factor of 3%, are installed in office areas and can be easily raised and lowered using an integral crank handle. The blinds provide occupants with effective control of daylight, without the risk of unwanted glare.

For long-lasting good looks, all external aluminium louvres and associated components have been finished in a highly durable, dark grey matt powder coating.

The new Roy Gibson Building, with its distinctive solar shading and screening solution by Levolux, will accommodate around 100 ESA employees. ECSAT focuses on satellite communication, climate change analysis and the development of commercial space-based products and services.

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