LEVOLUX FINS CHOSEN FOR BELFAST STUDIOS July 2018
Designed by RPP Architects, the new studio development resides within the 340-acre Giant’s Park development, which was formerly a landfill site on the outskirts of Belfast.
As the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a custom solution applied externally to a three-storey office building at the heart of the studio complex.
The building’s west-facing elevation, which features floor-to-ceiling glazing, extends more than 70 metres in length. A solar shading solution was required to shield glazed openings from direct sunlight, particularly during the afternoon as the sun passes across the site.
Without an effective form of solar control, solar heat gain would increase quickly, causing internal temperatures to soar to uncomfortable levels. While air conditioning can provide some respite, it is inefficient and expensive to run, so more attention is placed on passive cooling techniques to limit solar heat gain in the summer.
Solar heat gain occurs in all buildings with glazed openings. Visible and infrared light from the sun enters a building and the heat energy is either absorbed or re-radiated. As light is re-radiated, its wavelength changes and the resulting heat energy is trapped inside the building. This is known as solar heat gain.
Passive cooling can be achieved by introducing shading structures onto a building’s façade, perhaps in the form of a horizontal projection or other forms of Brise Soleil. These are precisely positioned to shield glazed openings from direct sunlight, while allowing natural daylight to filter through.
For the west-facing elevation of the Belfast Harbour Studios office building, Levolux proposed an arrangement of vertical fins to provide the optimum degree of shading during the afternoons.
In total, Levolux engineered 32 vertical aerofoil-shaped fins, each measuring 400mm wide by 77mm thick, formed from a single-piece aluminium extrusion. The fins are distributed equally into two sections, either side of a main entrance, set at a pitch of 1.5 metres. For optimum shading performance, the fins are fixed at an angle of 90 degrees from the façade and extend 8.5 metres in height, from first floor to roof level.
All fins are attached at roof level, to the underside of a projecting canopy, thanks to a welded soffit bracket. This secures the vertical fins approximately 3 metres in front of the façade.
To maintain the structural integrity of the fins, an 8mm diameter stainless steel cable extends between steel columns at 7.5 metre centres. Special column brackets allow the cables to be tensioned, passing through the middle and the bottom of each fin. The cables, although visually unobtrusive, were required to ensure all fins remain stable in adverse weather conditions.
Now fully operational, Belfast Harbour Studios, with its eye-catching vertical aerofoil fins, is supporting a thriving film industry in Northern Ireland. It has already attracted several major productions, such as ‘Krypton’, a Superman prequel and HBO’s hugely successful ‘Game of Thrones’.