May 2018

Pontio CentreThe £49 million Pontio Centre at Bangor University is a new centre for arts and innovation, which is equipped with a striking solar shading and screening solution, courtesy of Levolux.

The 10,600m2 building, which brings together Arts and Culture, Innovation, Education and Community, has been designed by Grimshaw Architects to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

pontio centreArranged across six levels, the irregular-shaped building accommodates state-of-the-art facilities, including a 482-seat theatre, 450-seat lecture room and a combined 200-seat lecture room and cinema. The sloping site connects the university’s science department buildings in the south, to its historic arts building located on the crest of a hill to the north.

pontio centreAs the UK’s leading solar shading and screening specialist, Levolux was approached to develop an external solar shading and screening solution, applied to south and east-facing elevations.

Levolux’s Infiniti Fin system was chosen to create several arrays of vertical fins, applied across glazed curtain walling. Its unique, patented design creates continuous fins with concealed stainless-steel fixings, for an uncompromised appearance. External fins not only create an interesting architectural feature, but also provide an effective form of passive solar control.

pontio centreBy limiting the exposure of glazed areas to direct sunlight, solar heat gain is dramatically reduced. The size, profile and pitch of the fins ensures this is achieved without sacrificing daylight or losing outward visibility. As a result, the interior of the Pontio Centre receives good daylight levels, while temperatures are maintained at comfortable levels throughout the summer, without relying on air pontio centreconditioning.

Two rectangular-shaped fins were developed by Levolux for this project, formed from extruded aluminium components. One fin measures 200mm deep by 50mm wide, while a slightly smaller variant measures 150mm deep by 50mm wide.

The larger fin has been utilised extensively on the east-facing elevation, fixed vertically for solar shading and screening purposes. To compensate for the sloping site, the length of each fin increases, from 6 metres in the north to almost 14 metres in the south. The tapering array of fins, which are set at a pitch of 400mm, extends almost 75 metres across upper levels of the building’s east-facing elevation.

Exploiting the unique fixing arrangement of the Infiniti Fin system, Levolux provided vertical fins which extend 1.4 metres beyond the highest horizontal support. The upper portion of the vertical fins possess sufficient structural integrity for them to function as a balustrade for a roof terrace.

The smaller rectangular-shaped fins provide shade to glazed openings for a staircase and adjoining circulation area at second and third floor level. Fixed vertically, the fins are set at a pitch of 530mm and combine to form a vertical shading structure measuring almost 5.5 metres in height by 12 metres in length.

Levolux also provided its Contour VLS 950XHP ventilation louvres to form a series of vertical screens, concealing mechanical and electrical equipment. Levolux’s high performance Contour louvres, featuring a patented ‘S’-shaped profile, provide the optimum combination of airflow and weather resistance, while projecting an attractive external aesthetic.

The ‘Class A’ rated ventilation louvres, which are fixed at a pitch of 50mm, are backed with 50mm thick insulation, to moderate temperatures within plant areas, along with HDPE bird mesh. Single and double louvred doors are integrated into the building envelope to facilitate easy access to building services for routine cleaning and maintenance.

The same high-performance ventilation louvres have also been incorporated into two horizontal screens on the cinema roof. The louvred screens include hinged panels that can be opened to increase ventilation to roof plant areas.

All rectangular-shaped aluminium fins have been given a metallic bronze anodised finish to complement the building’s limestone cladding. In contrast, the Contour ventilation louvres are finished in a highly durable, dark grey matt powder coating.

The Pontio Centre, which is named after the Welsh verb meaning ‘to bridge’, provides world-class facilities for the performing arts. The distinctive external solar shading and screening solution provided by Levolux, gives students and teachers the confidence to perform to the best of their ability.