April 2013

Students at Stafford College are settling into a ‘cool’ new £14 million Riverbank Building which has been expertly designed to provide a comfortable environment whatever the weather. Among the features incorporated to improve comfort and promote energy efficiency throughout the new building is an external Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

Stafford College1 200 x 200Replacing disused, fire-damaged workshops, the 56,000 sq foot building houses a three-storey library, state-of-the-art training facilities and salons for beauty therapy students, alongside training kitchens and new premises for the college bistro and restaurant.

Designed by CPMG Architects to achieve a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating, the ‘J’ shaped structure, which incorporates a Grade II listed building, occupies a prominent position overlooking Victoria Park to the south-west.

A curved red brick structure to the north-west is linked to a 33 metre long curtain-walled element, which features floor to ceiling glazing on each of its three levels.

Stafford College2 200 x 200This modern curtain-walled facade creates an interesting contrast with red brick and rendered facades, but more importantly, it is designed to allow daylight to flood into the building through to a central atrium space.

As the UK’s leading Solar Shading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a custom solution to be applied to the south-west facing elevation of the curtain walled element. This was needed not only to create an interesting external aesthetic but also to combat the risk of excessive solar heat gain.

If it wasn’t for an effective form of solar control, most of the heat energy from the sun, or ‘solar heat gain’, would be transmitted through the glazed envelope, warming the building. While some degree of heat gain is desirable in winter, it is best avoided in summer when internal temperatures can soar to uncomfortable and sometimes unhealthy levels.

To help control solar heat gain, thereby reducing the need for energy-sapping air conditioning, Levolux devised a solution comprising 64 Glass Fins. Arranged vertically in front of glazing, the Glass Fins are divided equally between first and second floor levels.

Stafford College3 200 x 200Each Fin comprises two panes of 8mm thick laminated glass, sandwiching a 1.5mm thick, white tinted interlayer. The Fins measure 450mm wide, with a height of up to 3.45 metres, fixed at 1 metre centres.

As a form of Brise Soleil, the Glass Fins provide effective, passive shading to limit solar heat gain. Their glass composition also maximises daylight levels, while presenting occupants with good outward views across to Victoria Park.

In addition to the Glass Fins, Levolux also installed roof plant Screening Panels, measuring 1 metre in height and with a combined length of 54.5 metres. The Screening Panels, finished in bright white, effectively conceal unsightly building services from view.

The Glass Fins and Screening Panels, like other Solar Shading and Screening systems available from Levolux, are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

Stafford College4 200 x 200Stafford College’s new Riverbank Building, with its Glass Fins from Levolux, was opened to great acclaim in November 2012. The cool building has already received a very warm response not only from students and lecturers but also from the wider community of Stafford.