January 2018

As part of a wide-ranging re-development, Eastleigh College in Hampshire has been dramatically transformed, with new and refurbished structures, fitted with eye-catching, perforated Solar Shading and Screening solutions, courtesy of Levolux.

Completed in 2017, the project focussed on a curved, refurbished three-storey teaching block in the south and a new two-storey Advanced Technology Block at the heart of the site, adjacent to a central courtyard.

Working closely with ArchitecturePLB architects, Levolux developed contrasting external Solar Shading and Screening solutions for the two linked buildings.

For the south-facing elevation of the main teaching block, which accommodates Art & Design, Hair & Beauty and Financial Services departments, Levolux provided an external solar shading solution, featuring light green vertical louvres.

In total, Levolux crafted 50 perforated vertical louvres or fins, each measuring 6.2 metres high by 550mm wide, which are fixed across first and second floor glazed openings. The Fins, which comprise two fabricated fins stacked one above the other, are set at a pitch of 900mm, within a 42-metre-long recess.

Each Fin is formed from a 2mm thick aluminium sheet, which has been perforated with circular holes, giving it a 50% open surface area. The perforated sheet is gently curved to create an ‘aerofoil’ shape, attaching to front and rear extruded aluminium nosings. The shape of each fin is maintained by horizontal aluminium ribs, set at 1 metre intervals. All fins, complete with aluminium endcaps for additional strength, are secured back to two horizontal carriers and an overhead fixing into the soffit.

Specially engineered brackets allow each Fin to be precisely set at an angle of 22 degrees, facing slightly to the east. This angle provides effective shading, particularly during the mornings, while allowing plenty of natural daylight to filter through into the building.

Perforated fins like these are proven to significantly reduce solar heat gain during the summer, helping to maintain a comfortably cool environment for teachers and pupils, without the need for air conditioning.

In contrast to the green vertical fins for the teaching block, Levolux also provided a copper-coloured screening solution for the east-facing elevation of the Advanced Technology Block. This block accommodates state-of-the-art laboratories, workstations and IT facilities, accessed from an impressive hallway, overlooking a central courtyard.

In total, Levolux provided 26 perforated panels, each measuring 3.8 metres high by 1.4 metres wide, which extend more than 36 metres in front of full height glazing at first floor level. Three types of panel were created with the same dimensions, but with a different pattern of perforations and openings, giving them a 50% open surface area.

Each perforated panel is formed from 3mm thick aluminium sheet with folded edges, allowing them to be secured between 20mm thick vertical aluminium carriers. The panels are fitted within a recess, projecting 700mm in front of glazed curtain walling.

Each panel is secured at the top and bottom, while the complete assembly of panels is braced by a series of 20mm wide, horizontal aluminium struts.

The combination of extruded aluminium struts and carriers, provides an unobtrusive, yet highly efficient mechanical fixing mechanism for the screening solution. This is complemented by Levolux’s market-leading Triniti® curtain walling bracket, which is the only such bracket to offer a comprehensive thermal break, along with excellent noise attenuation and structural integrity.

The complete assembly of perforated panels reveals a series of interconnecting hexagons, heptagons and pentagons which continues along the building. This attractive pattern was chosen as it resembles the crystal structure of Ytterbium and reflects the building’s focus on scientific research. This particular element forms the basis for research into a new form of superconductor.

The completed solar shading and screening solutions provided by Levolux are engineered from premium materials, with high quality finishes, including powder coatings applied to aluminium components. This has helped the architect to fulfil its objectives to the client, by creating two cost-effective, yet striking architectural features that will appeal to Eastleigh College’s students and teachers alike.