RESTORING LIGHT IN ISLINGTON May 2014
The Business Design Centre (formerly the Royal Agricultural Hall), which is a Grade II listed building in London’s Islington district, performs better than ever, with two refurbished gable ends now equipped with a motorised Skyvane Solar Shading solution from Levolux.
When it was originally constructed in 1862, the centre boasted one of the largest exhibition halls in the world, covering 65,000 sq feet. Since then, the centre has undergone numerous conversions and adaptations, which continues today.
Having hosted the Royal Tournament and Crufts in the late 19th century, the building was then abandoned after the Second World War, and it remained disused for more than 40 years. Thankfully it was rescued from demolition in 1986 and converted into the Business Design Centre (BDC). It is now owned and managed by the BDC Group and has become home to more than 100 businesses.
At the turn of the 21st century, the BDC’s iconic vaulted roof, which was patched up in the 1980’s, was showing signs of fatigue. As a result, in 2006, Islington Council approved plans to refurbish key roof structures, including the replacement of the building’s two large glazed gable ends, each measuring 35 metres wide by 12 metres in height.
Following several years of consultation, a final scheme, designed by Simon Powell Architects was finally commissioned in 2013. The architects, who are based at the BDC, turned to Levolux to develop an attractive, yet cost effective form of solar shading, to complement the replacement glazed curtain walling.
As the leading solar shading and screening specialist contractor, Levolux engineered a solution comprising non-retractable motorised louvre blinds, applied internally across the two arched glazed elevations. Levolux’s popular 680 Skyvane II system, which was revamped in 2013, was chosen for its flexibility and impressive light control characteristics.
Solid 80mm wide, aluminium roll-formed slats are connected to a series of extruded aluminium rack arms. These allow the slats to be simultaneously rotated from a fully closed, to a fully open position. By linking all blinds across each elevation together using drive shafts and connecting them to electric tubular motors, the entire array of blinds filling each gable end, can be adjusted at the flick of a switch.
Levolux also configured the Skyvane II control system to accommodate two wireless handsets. These allow staff to operate the blinds while moving around the venue, to control daylight levels as and when required.
All aluminium slats feature a light grey stove enamel finish, giving them a cool, glossy appearance. Supporting aluminium components, such as the rack arms and drive shafts feature a light grey powder coating and a natural anodised finish, respectively. In addition, for maximum durability and strength, stainless steel fixings are used.
The re-engineered Skyvane II system is purpose designed to manage daylight levels in the most demanding environments, whether applied internally, or externally. It can accommodate unusual shaped glazed sections, including triangles, trapeziums or even circles and is equally effective when fixed to vertical, horizontal or inclined surfaces.
The refurbished gable ends of the Business Design Centre in Islington, including the addition of a Skyvane II solar shading solution, will help to boost the attractiveness of the building to new and existing customers. This should ensure the historic conference and exhibition centre remains as popular today as it did when it was first opened more than 150 years ago.