February 2017

A £14.7 million extension for the University of South Wales, Cardiff Campus, known as the ‘ATRiUM’, is now open. It provides state-of-the-art teaching facilities and benefits from an external solar shading and screening solution from Levolux.

The five-storey building expands the existing campus to the east on the city centre site. The development, which was first proposed back in 2012, accommodates extensive studio facilities for design and fashion courses, along with fabrication workshop facilities to support media, performance and design courses and model making facilities for animation.

Designed by Boyes Rees Architects, the extension represents the second stage of a wider development for the University of South Wales, at its Cardiff city centre campus. Similar in appearance to the existing ‘ATRiUM’ structure, the development has a predominantly glazed curtain walled façade, to maximise the intelligent use of natural daylight.

During the winter, solar heat gain is a welcome factor, as it contributes to heating buildings naturally. However, during the summer, solar heat gain can quickly become excessive, increasing internal temperatures to uncomfortable levels.

As the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a custom solar shading and screening solution for the project. Levolux’s ever-popular Infiniti Fin system was combined with XL Louvres, Aerofoil Fins and integral walkways, to create the optimum solution.

On the building’s south-facing elevation at ground floor level, the Infiniti Fin system has been used to form a continuous vertical stack of horizontal, aerofoil-shaped fins to match the existing building. 8 Fins, each measuring 200mm wide by 50mm thick, are grouped together and extend some 16 metres, across the glazed façade.

The unique design of the Infiniti Fin system, with its concealed stainless steel fixings, provides greater flexibility for specifiers to select the most appropriate louvre profile. In this case, an aerofoil-shaped profile was chosen.

The system also allows the Fins to be fixed at the optimum angle and pitch to provide the desired level of shading. In this instance, Fins are set at an angle of 45 degrees, with a pitch of 175mm. This arrangement satisfies project specific criteria, allowing for the building’s orientation and the path of the sun across the building.

On the building’s east-facing elevation, across the second, third and fourth floor levels, Levolux devised a custom arrangement of vertically stacked XL Louvres.

300mm deep, ‘Z’ profile louvre blades have been incorporated into an attractive screen that extends more than 45 metres in length, by almost 14 metres in height. The extruded aluminium louvres are inverted and set at a pitch to guarantee the required visual screening to the adjacent HMP Cardiff property, in line with Home Office requirements.

To create an attractive corner edge detail, louvres are mitred at an angle of 65 degrees, as they return 2 metres along the south-facing elevation.

The prominent east-facing façade is interrupted by a central projecting element at second and third floor levels. The rectangular-shaped projection extends 18 metres in width by 9 metres in height and is set forward approximately 1.5 metres from the main façade.

In contrast to horizontal XL Louvres used across this elevation, an array of vertical Aerofoil Fins has been applied across the projecting façade. In total, 61 Fins, each measuring 500mm wide by 60mm thick are fixed at an angle of 65 degrees from the façade and set at 295mm centres. Pointing to the south, the Fins are again designed to provide visual screening to the nearby HMP Cardiff site, whilst allowing the maximum infiltration of natural daylight to the design studios accommodated behind.

To complete the solution, Levolux integrated a series of mesh walkways and handrails, to the rear of the XL Louvres and Aerofoil Fins, on the east-facing elevation. The walkways, fitted at second, third and fourth floor levels, have a combined length of more than 115 metres. The service routes enhance the performance of the solution, while providing a safe and secure means of accessing the curtain walling externally for routine cleaning and maintenance.

All the aluminium components, which are used to form the Aerofoil Fins, XL Louvres and the Infiniti Fin system, have been finished with a dark grey powder coating, which is both attractive and highly durable.

The development in Cardiff opened in September 2016, with overwhelming support from both students and teachers. With its eye-catching external solar shading and screening solution from Levolux, the ‘ATRiUM’ has become one of the UK’s most interesting and comfortable places to study and develop creative skills.