December 2017

The new multi-million-pound Central Library and Archives facility, which is adjacent to the recently transformed Grade I listed Piece Hall in Halifax, benefits from a Levolux solar shading and ventilation solution.

The Central Library and Archives comprises a modern four-storey building with state-of-the-art facilities, linked to a 19th century spire and transept ruin. An important aspect of the development was the restoration of the Grade II* listed spire and a rose window, which are prominent local landmarks and original features from Square Church, dating back to1857.

Funded by Calderdale Council and designed by LDN Architects, the Central Library and Archives facility forms an important part of a vibrant new cultural, heritage and learning quarter in Halifax. At its centre is The Piece Hall, one of the most iconic heritage buildings in Britain and the country’s last remaining cloth hall.

The 18th century building has been transformed following a multi-million-pound project made possible by funding from Calderdale Council, a generous £7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – thanks to National Lottery players – and kind support from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation.

While traditional materials have been used in the construction of the Central Library and Archives, it also benefits from cutting-edge building technology, including a Solar Shading and Ventilation Solution, which were provided by Levolux.

A custom external solar shading solution comprises rectangular and trapezoidal-shaped aluminium fins, and external tensioned blinds.

The rectangular-shaped fins, each measuring 400mm wide by 100mm thick, create several frames that project in front of glazed openings on the east-facing elevation. The largest frame, with an opening measuring 7 metres high by 3 metres wide, is set within a larger array of horizontal, trapezoidal-shaped fins.

Trapezoidal-shaped fins, each measuring 200mm wide by 50mm thick, are incorporated within a vertical shading structure, which measures almost 10 metres wide by almost 11 metres in height. In total, 23 fins are fixed horizontally at a pitch of 450mm, between aluminium carriers.

Levolux also supplied and installed a series of external, tensioned blinds, applied across a glazed skylight at roof level. 3 large motorised 880X tensioned blinds were required to shade an area measuring 8.9 metres long by 4.4 metres wide. A light grey, specialist solar control fabric was chosen to achieve effective light exclusion. Tensioned side-guides, a relieving roller and a low-profile housing were also employed to ensure the blinds can withstand adverse weather conditions.

The motorised blinds are linked to a Levolux Multicontroller, along with an internal light sensor and an external wind speed sensor. During normal operation, the blinds are opened and closed automatically to maintain optimum daylight levels within the upper level of the library. Should wind-speed levels exceed a set threshold, the blinds are automatically retracted back into their housing, preventing them from being damaged.

In addition to the roof level solar control blinds, Levolux also supplied operable glass louvres linked to a Building Management System (BMS), which were supplied in widths of up to 1.9 metres and heights of up to 640mm. The glass louvres are opened and closed automatically to naturally ventilate the building.

The glass blades are formed from laminated and toughened safety glass, sandwiching a 24mm cavity. These are secured into thermally broken, extruded aluminium frames, which are finished in a dark grey powder coating.

In total, Levolux supplied 84 operable glass louvres, each featuring either one or two opening glass blades. These were integrated within areas of curtain walling on the north and east-facing elevations.

Working in harmony with the solar shading solution, the ventilation solution helps to maximise comfort levels for staff and visitors alike.

The solar shading and ventilation solutions provided by Levolux, helped the project to achieve its sustainability targets and a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. The solution will also contribute towards cost efficiencies for running the building.