Category: Construction


The attraction of brise soleil: from Le Courbusier to the twenty-first century

When a climate is irregular, oppressively hot or cold, or when a building is located in a polluted area such as a large city, external louvres are often used to provide ventilation and a regular circulation of fresh air. These consist of several slats placed at precise angles to ensure the best possible circulation for fresh, temperature-controlled air. Large structures, such as brise soleil, its name taken from the French (‘sunbreaker’) can also shade people around the building from either overwhelming sun or light precipitation. Smaller louvres control sand or dust from entering the building, as well as ambient sound. They are an extremely useful method of reducing emissions from heating and from air conditioning, and for this reason have gained prominence as an essential feature of a ‘green building’. Air conditioning in particular is one of the most infamous culprits in carbon dioxide production.

Some louvres have even more advanced and specific environmentally friendly uses. For instance, glass louvres actively take in and retain heat, leaving buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Some are even built in conjunction with solar panels: the slats are ideally placed to support fragile photovoltaic cells, and the glass maximizes the amount of sunlight they attract. Many well-known buildings, such as Paris’ Institute du Monde Arabe, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Chandigargh city at the foot of the Himalayas, designed by the creator of brise soleil, architect Le Courbusier (‘the blackbird’), use louvres to create modern and efficient buildings.

However, architects are artists, and when planning external louvres on a building, they’re not thinking only of the functionality of efficient temperature and pollution control systems. It’s the indisputable beauty of external louvres that has made them a mainstay of all kinds of architecture projects, from airports or entire cities like Chandigargh, to private homes and small offices. Louvres are found everywhere in inconscpicious forms made out of steel or aluminium, and many are designed specifically not to be seen. But on the other extreme, an arresting structure made of wooden or glass louvres combines functionality with a design centerpiece.

When sitting out in the garden, approaching the pool, or simply approaching a building, a louvre structure is fantastic way of providing a cool, quiet and tranquil space while also enjoying the serenity for inhabitants, workers and guests that comes from gorgeous architecture. It’s increasingly unusual to find a shaded outdoor space attached to a well-designed building that doesn’t incorporate an attractive brise soleil feature – and with louvre installation becoming cheaper and more accessible to the average homeowner, the trend is only set to become more well-loved.

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The last thing you want to have to install on a building are ugly blinds and sunshades. While too much sunlight might be damaging both to fabrics, wall surfaces and art objects, not to mention human skin, a room which lets in no natural light tends to be gloomy. The solution is to install external louvres that are elegant and functional and effectively protect valuable objects and décor from sun damage. Incorporating brise soleil in your shading system makes for maximum protection and hence sustainability. What’s more, the ready availability of glass louvres from specialist suppliers means that your shades can be aesthetic as well as practical.

Putting unsightly additions on the exterior of a building can be controversial with neighbours, local councils and – if the building receives customers or clients – visitors. You need not worry about marring extant architecture by erecting stylish louvres, however. They are an extremely aesthetic choice, as well as having considerable environmental benefits. Providers supply louvres engineered to meet a wide range of requirements. As they can be made from glass, your shades can be silk-screened, tailor cut, etched, coloured or coated according to your specifications. Neither do your louvres have to be static – they can also be installed in motorised, movable positions. Louvres are more than just an add-on. With a great variety of design available, more and more architects are integrating louvres into buildings.

The question of the durability of your shading system is worth considering. Extra resilient shading systems made from aluminium and stainless steel will withstand high winds and loads of snow. Thanks to their lightweight frames, vibration is also minimised. Whatever the façade of the building in question, whether commercial, public, old or new, a selection of fixings and colour coatings can be chosen from in order to blend shading systems with their immediate surrounds.

Most importantly, a good quality shading system will promote the longevity of objects such as valuable works of art, save costs on air conditioning, reduce glare and increase privacy. First and foremost direct sunlight is prevented from entering a building. Significantly, direct sunlight is the chief cause of heat gain and as shading systems help keep things cool, you’ll save on your air conditioning bill. Additionally the environment will benefit, as ozone-depleting gases produced by air conditioning units will be correspondingly reduced.

To sum up, brise soleil enables natural ventilation to be a viable option without the loss of privacy or risk of light damage. External louvres are an effective protective measure, and decrease running costs. Glass louvres combine function with style. If you are environmentally conscious when it comes to architecture and light damage, turn to a comprehensive shading system solution.

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If you work in a modern building then you probably have big, expansive windows that give the room an airy, open feel and allow in plenty of sunlight. This has a number of advantages. For starters, you decrease lighting bills – and sunlight is far better than electric lights. It’s brighter, and the mixture of wavelengths is (by definition) more ‘natural’, meaning that workers generally feel better in the sun than under artificial lights. It also decreases heating bills. The problem comes when it’s summer, and the office can overheat. Then, you have a different issue, since you have to shell out money you saved on heating on new air conditioning. Another solution is to retrofit a brise soleil, or glass louvres. External louvres can be an effective way of having the best of both worlds – allowing the sun to light your premises in the winter, but not overheating them in the summer.

There are a number of variants on the concept, and the particular version will depend on your circumstances – your climate, for starters, but also where your building is positioned and which way it faces. Some louvres are movable, and can be controlled from minute-to-minute to fit to conditions on the day. Others are fixed, though these can still be highly effective. One of the most simple but helpful sorts is a ‘shelf’ which admits low-angle winter sun, or light at the start of the day when the sun is still low in the sky. In the summer, or the middle of the day, when the sun tends to be at a steeper angle, the shelf blocks its light from the windows.

The brise soleil – French for ‘sun breaker’ – is a permanent sun barrier that can take a variety of forms. Sometimes it is hardly anything more than a horizontal surface projecting from the side of the building. On other occasions they are more complex, perhaps being slatted to admit a proportion of the sun, or only sun at certain times of day or year. These, along with glass louvres (which can be used in conjunction with a sun breaker), are handy solutions to managing sunlight, which can result in large savings for your business. If this is something that your office finds problematic, then external louvres might be something to look into.

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Looking for north london builders can present quite a challenge.  Everyone wants to find a builder they can really rely on, and without recommendations from friends, scanning phonebooks and internet sites for builders seems to offer little guarantee of identifying somebody who will do a decent job.  Whether you are looking for Chelsea builders or Hampstead builders, the following tips should help you in your search and make sure your loft conversion doesn’t turn into a paid excursion for some cowboy builders.

Most people will suggest that you look for a personal recommendation, but this can be a trickier business than just getting a name from Kate next door.  People who have had building done recently on houses and projects that are similar to the one you have in mind will be the best placed ones to advise you of builders who are most fitting for your needs.  You may also consider using web forums or websites as these seem to be increasingly developing with a local element.  Still, as with all online suggestions, these should be regarded with a healthy amount of scepticism.  MyBuilder.com is a sort of trip advisor for building work, so you will find previous customers recommending tradespeople by giving feedback.  You can also search for different building specialisms, which gives you the best chance of finding someone who will do the best job on your specific project.  It is often worth checking out the Find a Builder service, as the Federation of Master Builders vets all the members on its books.

You should generally get written quotes from three different firms.  The more details you can specify about the work you require, the more accurate your quote will be and the less of a shock you might end up with when the project is finished.  As with other similar situations, it is worth getting references from each builder.  Rather than just talking to previous customers on the telephone, you should if possible visit the property so that you can observe the quality of the job for yourself.  A conversation about the job and the service provided by the builders will be far more illuminating than a short conversation where you hear that they did a decent job.  Once you have decided on a builder, you will need to draw up a written contract, which should be as detailed as possible.  It is definitely worth taking some advice before you do this.

There are so many north london builders that it really is worth taking the time and trouble to find the right person.  As property in these areas is often highly valuable, you obviously want to be sure that your Hampstead builders or Chelsea builders are good enough to enhance do as much for your house value as possible.

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