DYNAMIC DESIGN IN BLAKENHAM September 2015
Designed by Grimshaw Architects to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, the new facility processes almost 260,000 tonnes of household and business waste each year to generate sufficient electricity to power the equivalent of 30,000 homes.
The development, which is operated by SITA, comprises a main incinerator plant facility and an adjoining education centre. The main plant facility is accommodated within an impressive building which extends more than 30 metres in height, with a length of almost 60 metres.
As a result, architects sought the help of the UK’s leading solar shading and screening specialists, Levolux.
With an unrivalled track record, Levolux was ideally equipped to design an external screening solution that would give the facility an attractive external aesthetic that mimics the formation of clouds passing across the Suffolk sky.
The custom solution comprises aerofoil-shaped louvres each measuring 500mm wide by 50mm thick, applied across each of the building’s four elevations. The extruded aluminium Louvres are set at a pitch of 750mm, assembled into panels using aluminium side-plates.
The louvred panels, with free spans of up to 3.6 metres, combine to cover almost 4500 square metres of the external façade.
To create a distinctive and interesting aesthetic, the angle of each louvre in each vertical stack increases by 6 degrees over the height of the installation. In addition, the angle of the upper-most louvre in each vertical stack increases by 10 degrees across the installation.
The differing angles of louvres create a dynamic visual effect that changes as you pass along the façade. As the louvres reflect daylight, they create swathes of light and dark across the façade, giving the impression of moving cloud formations. This softens the visual impact of the facility on the landscape and conceals its industrial core.
To deliver a comprehensive solution, Levolux also supplied and fitted 51 of its internal 780 Roller Blinds. With a drop of 2.7 metres and widths in excess of 3 metres, the Blinds have been applied to glazed openings, allowing occupants to control light and glare levels simply by operating a manual crank handle.
All aluminium components, including the aerofoil-shaped louvres, are finished in an attractive and durable light blue powder coating. In contrast, all internal Roller Blinds are fitted with a white and charcoal fabric, with a 3% openness factor.
Stephen Davis a construction and architecture designer at Tata Steel Projects, said “To accentuate the uniqueness of the façade, some of the sun-shades were positioned at slightly different angles, creating an effect of volume and shine. These contrasts emerge as soon as the sun shines, bringing the building alive while fusing it permanently with the English sky and landscape!”.
The new ‘Energy from Waste’ facility in Great Blakenham, with its striking Aerofoil Fin screening solution, is now fully functional and has already made a positive contribution by significantly reducing the amount of waste being deposited in land-fill sites. This supports the Suffolk County Council’s ambition of becoming the greenest in England.