September 2016

francis-crick-institute1-200x200The Francis Crick Institute in central London is a world-leading centre of biomedical research and innovation. It’s research groups are now beginning to move into a new state-of-the-art building, featuring an extraordinary roof screening solution from Levolux.

This striking new building, designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating by architects from HOK with PLP Architecture, is one of Europe’s largest biomedical research centres. Once complete, it will accommodate some 1500 staff including 1250 scientists.

francis-crick-institute2-200x200The building is equipped with a vast array of specialist, highly sensitive plant and equipment, much of it located at roof level. To satisfy planning requirements, it was necessary to limit the visual impact of the building, particularly at high level, as it overlooks St Pancras International Station, the British Library and housing in the Somers Town area of Camden.

francis-crick-institute3-200x200Levolux worked collaboratively with the project design team to develop a custom roof screening solution, to satisfy unique and challenging project-specific requirements. The resulting solution is impressive in scale; extending 160 metres in length and 80 metres in width, and reaching up to more than 43 metres above street level. The enormous roof screening structure resembles a modern vaulted roof, divided into two interlocking shells.

Each shell is formed from a variety of screening fins, or louvres, that combine to create an attractive, yet multifunctional enclosure. Solid, perforated and twisted aluminium fins all feature, along with glass fins.

francis-crick-institute4-200x200In total, Levolux designed, fabricated, supplied and installed almost 2400 screening fins. The fins vary in size, with widths ranging from 150mm up to 750mm and lengths of up to 9 metres. Each fin is engineered with custom brackets to facilitate the smooth operation of lifting and securing them into place.

The roof screening solution is not simply a decorative feature. It provides shading and a naturally ventilated enclosure to allow mechanical and electrical plant and equipment to operate efficiently. It also incorporates one of the largest building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) installations in the UK.

Over 800 custom-built solar panels have been incorporated into more than 420 of the Glass Fins, fixed to south-facing sections of the roof. The laminated Glass PV Fins are formed from toughened glass, sandwiching a PVB interlayer and mono-crystalline PV Cells.

francis-crick-institute5-200x200In addition to the Glass PV Fins, Levolux also supplied and installed the associated micro inverters, isolator boxes and two central distribution boxes, mounted within a PV Plant Room.

The complete PV array, which is connected to the Building Grid, the BMS and EMS, is expected to generate around 204,200 kWh/year from a renewable energy source. This helps to satisfy the energy demands of the Institute, while significantly reducing its environmental footprint.

Beneath the myriad of Fins that cloak the building’s roof, Levolux’s Ventilation Louvres were also specified to create protective enclosures around key items of plant and equipment.

francis-crick-institute6-200x200HP75 and HP50 louvre systems were used, both featuring louvres with a patented ‘S’ shaped profile. The two systems are distinguished by the pitch of louvres, being 75mm and 50mm respectively. The extruded aluminium louvres provide the optimum levels of airflow and weather resistance demanded by sensitive items of roof based plant and equipment.

All facing surfaces of the aluminium fins feature an attractive, natural anodised finish, while associated aluminium components have been given a highly durable, light grey powder coating. The high performance ventilation louvres used on the project also benefit from a powder coating, but in a contrasting dark grey colour.

Plans for the Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) were first submitted in 2008. As construction works commenced on site in 2011, the centre was officially re-named in honour of Francis Crick, one of Britain’s leading scientists. The award-winning Francis Crick Institute was completed in August 2016. Science groups will move in from their existing locations over the coming months, with everyone in the new building by the end of 2016.

By leveraging cutting-edge technology, including its multi-functional roof screening solution from Levolux, the institute is ideally equipped to carry out ground-breaking research. It is hoped that it will promote the development of new treatments for illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, neurodegenerative conditions and infectious diseases.