The £28 million new Research Innovation Learning Development Centre (RILD) in Exeter is a world-leading medical facility, which pushes the boundaries of eco-friendly building design by combining renewable energy, heat recovery and a fixed external Solar Shading solution by Levolux.
The RILD Centre is a partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. It encompasses the Wellcome Wolfson Medical Research Facility and a new Post Graduate Education Centre, provides more than 7,500m2 of highly functional space divided into laboratories, offices, meeting rooms, teaching rooms, lecture theatres and break-out areas.
Designed by award-winning Devereux Architects, the development, which is arranged over four floors, has achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating thanks to some innovative design features. Perhaps the most striking of these is the application of a custom external Solar Shading solution on east and west-facing facades.
An oval-shaped central structure accommodates the main entrance and circulation areas, with links to laboratories and ancillary areas to the north, along with offices and lecture theatres to the south. The curved façade of the central structure features floor to ceiling glazed curtain walling, to maximise daylight levels throughout the building.
As the UK’s leading solar shading specialist, Levolux was invited to develop a custom solution, based on its Infiniti® Fin system, to help control light, heat and glare levels, without compromising the thermal performance of the glazed envelope. The solution comprised vertical, rectangular-shaped Fins fixed at varying angles around the east and west-facing elevations, arranged into 4 horizontal bands that stretch across the curved facade.
Each rectangular Fin, which is formed from extruded aluminium components, measures 750mm deep by 50mm thick. A section of the vertical Fins combine together on each façade, extending to more than 15 metres in height. The angle of each Fin varies in relation to the curved facade to ensure the optimum level of shade. This helps to prevent excessive solar heat gain in summer and reduce glare levels in winter, while retaining good outward visibility for occupants. All Fins are secured to the structure using Levolux’s thermally broken Triniti® curtain walling bracket, which is compatible with most curtain walling systems.
While some of Levolux’s competitors claim to offer a thermally broken curtain walling bracket, upon inspection it is evident that they only offer a partial break. Levolux’s Triniti bracket however, with its patented design, is the only uncompromised curtain walling bracket available with a fully isolated thermal break. This prevents cold bridging and problems associated with interstitial condensation.
All Fins, along with all other aluminium components, have been given an attractive matt stone grey satin powder coated finish. The rectangular Fins, like all systems installed by Levolux, are backed with the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.
By embracing new energy-efficient building technology, such as the external solar shading solution provided by Levolux, this centre of excellence creates the ideal environment for medical research to be taken to a new level.