October 2008

The Place Sunniside1 200x200Levolux, the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, has turned its innovative products into a true artistic masterpiece at Sunderland’s award-winning commercial development, thePlace. The result is a stunning façade that provides a new iconic landmark for the £130m regeneration of the town’s Sunniside area.

The Place Sunniside2 200x200Designed by Reid Jubb Brown architects, thePlace involved the integration of six Grade II listed Georgian terrace buildings, linked together to a new building. It is made instantly recognisable by its eye-catching façade, which features two banks of forty three screen printed, rotatable Glass Louvres, located at first and second floor levels.

The Place Sunniside3 200x200Fabricated and installed by Levolux and stylised by local artist Kathryn Hodgkinson, each Glass Louvre is 420mm wide and 2.1m high and comprises two panes of clear glass, sandwiching a screen printed laminate. The effect, when the Louvres are in the fully closed position, is a stunning translucent mural that celebrates the area’s rich cultural and architectural heritage, notably Sunderland’s history of glass making. At night, lights located in the cills backlight the translucent mural, creating a truly unique aesthetic.

The Glass Louvres are designed to automatically rotate in relation to the position of the sun – opening and closing as the sun moves round the building. This feature can be manually overridden and is linked to a Building Management System (BMS) interface.

The Place Sunniside4 200x200Levolux’s solution was completed by dark grey powder coated aluminium housings and specially designed motors, which rotate beyond 180° to enable easy cleaning to both sides of each Glass Louvre.

Ben Hall, director of Sunniside Partnership – the organisation leading the area’s regeneration programme – commented: “A key objective from the beginning of thePlace project was to collaborate with an artist to integrate an artwork piece into the building design. The Glass Louvre system located on the front of the building provided the ideal canvas for this opportunity.”

The Place Sunniside5 200x200thePlace has provided Sunniside with its own state-of-the-art business and arts centre, accommodating performance space, art gallery/exhibition spaces, a café, meeting rooms and a range of business suites and artists’ studios. Opened to great acclaim in late 2008, its tenants include a college department, photography and film companies, plus an architectural firm.

Despite its recent construction, thePlace has already gained a number of prestigious awards. These include:

  • The Journal Landmark Award Best Office 2008
  • The Journal Landmark Environmental runner-up
  • Sunderland City Council Building of Excellence
  • Sunderland Civic Trust Award

All Levolux solar shading systems are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package, along with a three year warranty.