Levolux tackles light, heat and sound in Cardiff

The recently completed, award-winning £30 million Hadyn Ellis Building at Cardiff University creates the ideal environment for world-leading scientific research teams to make progress, thanks to the inclusion of a multi-purpose Solar Shading solution, courtesy of Levolux.

As the main focal point of the Maindy Park research campus, the Hadyn Ellis Building, named in honour of the late Deputy Vice-Chancellor, is purpose-built to foster a closer working relationship between all of the University’s schools and encourage greater public awareness and involvement in the cutting-edge research being carried out.

Designed by IBI Nightingale (formally Nightingale Associates) to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, the five-storey building is packed full of state-of-the-art, energy-saving technology. Recognising the innovative design and construction methods employed, the BRE recently judged the building to be the ‘greenest education building’ in Wales under its Higher Education category.

Levolux, a world-leader in the development of solar shading solutions, was approached at an early stage in the project to design, manufacture, supply and install a custom solution for the Hadyn Ellis building. This comprised its Infiniti Fin system, Aerofoil Fins, Acoustic Fins and Ventilation Louvres.

The building, which incorporates two distinctive blocks sandwiching a central atrium, runs parallel with a railway line which lies to the south-west, in close proximity to the rear of the building.

The four-storey northern block features brightly coloured curtain walling, with regular glazed openings. This block houses the building’s main entrance, along with public areas and an exhibition hall at low levels, with write-up and support areas at higher levels. It is critical that these areas remain cool and quiet at all times.

To satisfy the challenging project specific requirements, Levolux was able to offer a unique solar shading solution which has impressive acoustic attenuation properties.

Wrapping around three elevations of the northern block, is an array of horizontal, rectangular profile Acoustic Fins, each measuring 400mm deep by 50mm thick. Fixed at 90 degrees, the Fins perform three important functions.

Firstly, the Fins shield the building from the sun, thereby reducing solar heat gain. Secondly, they provide effective acoustic attenuation, thanks to a perforated underside and a mineral wool acoustic infill. An integral water resistant, breathable membrane protects the acoustic infill material, ensuring long-lasting acoustic performance. Thirdly, the Acoustic Fins diffuse views from the Hadyn Ellis Building across to smaller neighbouring residential properties, creating a form of privacy screen.

In addition, three extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins, each measuring 200mm wide, are grouped together to form a horizontal projection, providing shade to fourth floor windows.

The building’s five-storey southern block houses laboratories and research areas where control of light and heat is a top priority. To help achieve this, Levolux worked closely with the architects to devise an arrangement of vertical and horizontal Fins, applied across two elevations.

Levolux’s Infiniti Fin system is utilised on the block’s south-west facing elevation to form a series of vertical 400mm deep, aerofoil-shaped Fins. Eleven Fins are set at 3.3 metre centres, applied across a central glazed screen measuring almost 40 metres wide by 10 metres high. The vertical Fins, each fixed at 90 degrees, divide the glazed screen into 12 bays.

Complementing the vertical Fins is a series of 200mm deep horizontal aerofoil-shaped Fins, fixed between each of the 12 bays. The Fins are grouped into four rows, providing shade at high level on three floors. Fins have also been applied either side of the central glazed screen, across ribbon windows. Here the Fins are grouped into two rows, applied on three levels. These continue around the building onto the south-east facing elevation. 200mm deep extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins have also been incorporated into panels, each comprising five Fins, fixed across glazed openings at ground floor level. All 200mm deep Fins applied on this project are fixed at an angle of 45 degrees, which provides the optimum sun cut-off angle to balance the need to reduce solar heat gain and maintain daylight levels. To complete the solution, Levolux also fitted its standard and high performance Ventilation Louvres, extensively at ground, third and fourth floor levels.

Standard and high performance Ventilation Louvres have been applied to two elevations of the ground floor generator room at the rear of the building. Both louvred sections measure 8 metres in length by 5 metres in height.

Extensive Louvred sections have also been incorporated to conceal plant and equipment located on the third and fourth floors.

Ventilation Louvres are backed by 120mm deep insulated backing or protective birdmesh, where required, to satisfy special requirements. Sections are also fitted with single and double louvred doors to allow easy access for routine maintenance.

All horizontal Fins and Louvres, together with support arms, are finished in an attractive and durable, cool grey powder coating. As a ‘stand-out’ feature, the vertical Fins are finished in a bright orange gloss powder coating.

The Hadyn Ellis Building makes best use of natural resources where possible, including the application of Levolux’s passive Solar Control and Acoustic Louvres. Thanks to these and other energy efficient features, the building is equipped to support ongoing pioneering research and studies, for the benefit of all.

For more information please visit www.levolux.com.