150 Holborn is a new office building in central London, housing 1,000 employees from the brands that make up the DAR Group international consultancy.
The eight-storey building is designed to maintain views of St Paul’s Cathedral. According to architect and occupier Perkins&Will:
The interior design ensures each respective business keeps its unique identity while supporting cross-brand interaction.
Its state-of-the-art construction aims at LEED Platinum, BREEAM Outstanding and SKA Gold.
150 Holborn has been designed to be energy efficient, resilient, and adaptable to climate change. A high-performing envelope maximises both daylight and outside views during London’s long winters, while minimising solar gain. The building’s façade fins have been arranged to provide solidity and reduce solar exposure, and internal blinds augment this performance.
As the spec developed, two themes emerged as fundamental to the architect’s approach. The building was to be smart and sustainable. In other words, it was to reflect the values of its users. Initially, we were asked to supply over 550 blinds.
A smart building meant smart blinds. Perkins&Will proposed that the blinds respond automatically to a range of scenarios. As an example, when people book a conference room, they should walk in and find the blinds correctly set to their needs and in response to external conditions.
However, after a value engineering process, it was deemed motorisation was only required for key areas. Out of 550 blinds, around 76 were motorised. The rest were specified as high-performance manually operated blinds using the same fabric.
Installation was another challenge. In the original drawings, the blind box seemed to float as there was no fixing detail. A fireproof treatment meant the blind box would need to sit outside of the intumescent expansion zone. The upshot was that we could not top fix the blind boxes to the façade and had to find a bespoke solution.
Our team steered the client through a variety of smart blind options to work out the most cost-effective solution.
Eventually, the client went with our recommendation of Vestamatic automated blinds using Vestamatic SMI motors and control systems.
These not only met the requirements for smart blinds but also provided a cost-effective way to cable, and required a lower power supply than other systems.
Perkins&Will specified maximum sustainability in every element of the project. In respect of the blinds, they wanted a high recycled content in the fabric.
While several options were available, they all had limitations, particularly related to width. Some of the blinds were nearly three metres wide. The most sustainable fabrics could not span that space in one piece. Two lengths would have to be joined.
Therefore, we recommended Verosol Enviroscreen 2%, which is a recyclable, fire resistant polyester fabric which would not need joins. The fabric has a highly reflective metallised backing to reduce heat and glare and is available in two widths to keep fabric wastage to a minimum.
As well as guiding the architect through the intelligent and sustainable options, we also proved we are experts in solving installation problems.
Our project manager and installation team designed a bespoke strap bracket which fixed onto the I-beam. From the bracket, a steel strap projected the blind pocket back into the façade. We were not allowed to drill into the I-beam so the team created a wraparound solution which clamped round the beam with its own fire-proofing.
The gauge of the steel was carefully calculated as it had to be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the blind system and box. Once installed, we applied intumescent paint to all the bracketry on the right-hand side of the blind box.
The Enviroscreen fabric created a highly efficient, attractive, heat and glare resistant appearance, giving uniformity to the exterior of the building, whether the blinds were automated or manual.
The strap brackets did not just function well, they looked unobtrusive once the rest of the interior was decorated. While we had used similar strap brackets to install curtain tracks, this was the first time the solution had been designed and used with blinds. It is part of our DNA to design a bespoke solution to overcome any client’s fitting challenges.
Another key to the project success was the way in which we surrounded the project with all stakeholders. Our team communicated with the architect, cost consultants and contractor simultaneously.
Although the solution appeared to be architect led, this was a design and build project, so contractor McLaren had full rein to use the suppliers they chose. Our personnel maintained a very strong relationship with the contractor, ensuring they remained constantly approachable, answered queries, overcame problems and inspired confidence throughout the project.
If you’d like to discuss and current or future projects with us, contact us here and one of our expert team will be happy to assist.