BRINGING A ‘SMILE’ TO BIRKENHEAD
July 2014

The award-winning St Catherine’s Health Centre in Birkenhead, dubbed ‘The Smile’ for the way its façade – with a Solar Shading solution from Levolux – curves around the adjacent church, is already making a positive impact on healthcare provision in Birkenhead.

The £32 million landmark development brings together a range of NHS services, including community physiotherapy, sexual health and heart services along with X-Ray facilities and GP practices, to create a state-of-the-art healthcare centre for the benefit of the local community.

St Catherines Health Centre PN2 200 x 200Designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating by design firm One Creative Environments Ltd, the 11,100m2, four-storey development utilises cutting-edge technology, including heat recovery systems, rainwater harvesting and external solar shading to its east-facing elevation.

As the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was tasked with developing a custom solution to be applied externally, against the curved east-facing elevation, which accommodates a full height internal street that connects five wings.

The solution comprises six bays of horizontal Aerofoil Fins, each measuring 400mm wide, with free spans of up to 8 metres. In total, Levolux installed 966 metres of extruded aluminium Aerofoil Fins, which are faceted to accommodate the curved façade.

St Catherines Health Centre PN3 200 x 200All Fins are arranged horizontally, incorporated into vertical stacks, set at a pitch of 525mm. To deliver the optimum level of solar shading across the glazed curtain walling, all Fins are fixed at an angle of 45 degrees. This ensures internal temperatures remain naturally cool, even in the height of summer, while maximising daylight levels and allowing good outward visibility.

The Aerofoil Fins are secured between structural aluminium end caps, which are fixed back to steelwork. The Fins appear continuous, thanks to the inclusion of a curved aluminium infill piece that links each Fin horizontally, across the steel support posts.

All Aerofoil Fins have been given an attractive and durable powder coating, with a matt grey finish. The complete solution is backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package, along with a three year warranty.

St Catherines Health Centre PN4 200 x 200The curved east-facing elevation, with its impressive array of horizontal Aerofoil Fins, overlooks a new public area, with the Grade II listed St Catherine’s Church at its centre. The Fins are a distinctive and highly popular feature of the building, while the natural curve and form of its layout has inspired the ‘smile’ nickname that has been adopted as an affectionate term of reference for the building.

St Catherine’s Health Centre has been praised for its innovative design, cost effective delivery and not least for the positive impact it has had on the local community.

By bringing together a host of energy efficient products, including Levolux’s Aerofoil Fins, the public-private partnership development convinced a panel of industry experts to judge it as the Best Healthcare Project in 2011 and Best Designed Project at this year’s Partnerships Awards 2014