Advanced manufacturing in Sheffield

Factory 2050, the latest development within the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, has a striking, ultra-modern appearance, partly thanks to an external Solar Shading solution from Levolux.

Located at the heart of the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Campus, Factory 2050 has been designed by Bond Bryan Architects. It provides 7000sq metres of reconfigurable manufacturing workspace, to accommodate the latest innovations in robotics, automation and data driven assembly technologies.

The development comprises a main rotunda building and an adjoining rectangular building. Levolux was approached to develop a passive solar shading solution, to be applied to both buildings. Solar shading is essential to help maintain occupant comfort levels throughout the year, particularly in the summer, without relying on expensive air conditioning systems.

The solution proposed by Levolux comprises oval-shaped aluminium louvres, arranged horizontally between vertical aluminium carriers. Each louvre measures 60mm wide by 50mm thick and is formed from extruded aluminium components. Based on Levolux’s Infiniti Fin system, the oval-shaped louvres feature concealed fixings for a clean, uncompromised appearance.

The tubular louvres, which are vertically stacked with a pitch of 200mm, have been custom engineered to suit the shape of each building.

The main rotunda building has 8 metre high curtain walling, with full height glazing. To accommodate the building’s circular form, each louvre has been carefully curved. 20 rows of louvres run around the perimeter of the building at high level, accentuating the building’s unusual shape, which resembles the ‘Starship Enterprise’.

In contrast, for the rectangular-shaped adjoining building, louvres have been incorporated into a continuous vertical stack, providing shade to glazed areas at high level. 18 rows of louvres combine to form a shading structure, measuring 15 metres in length by 3.5 metres in height. The louvres are mitred to accommodate an external corner of the building.

The louvred section applied to the rotunda building is secured back to steel mullions using Levolux’s Triniti® brackets. These incorporate a unique and highly effective thermal break which minimises the risk of cold bridging and virtually eliminates any problems associated with interstitial condensation. They also help to reduce noise transmission through the building envelope.

All extruded aluminium components, including the tubular louvres and vertical carriers, are finished in a durable, light grey powder coating.

Factory 2050 is a £43 million development, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, each of which have contributed £10 million to the project.

Researchers based at Factory 2050 are already carrying out projects on behalf of Boeing, Airbus, GE, Bombardier, GKN and Jaguar Land Rover.

Factory 2050 is the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts.

The circular layout of the factory is specifically intended to facilitate collaborative working and maximise productivity. The inclusion of the external tubular louvre solar shading solution in the scheme, plays its part in creating the ideal environment for the factory of the future.

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