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An example of automated solar shading incorporated with biophilic design at our 7 Aldgate project

Incorporating automated solar shading with biophilic office design

By: Oli Birch Category: Automated Systems

Office architecture has embraced the concept of biophilic design over the past few years. But what exactly is biophilic design? And how can automated solar shading be incorporated within this?

We explain more below.

What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is focused on the use of natural elements, like natural lighting, ventilation and indoor plant walls, within the built environment.

Made popular in the 1980’s, the concept is to connect occupants of a space with nature to create an environment that promotes productivity, health and wellbeing.

The role of automated solar shading

While automated solar shading may not be an architect’s first port of call when incorporating biophilia into workplace design, it can have a profound impact on the space.

  1. Enhanced Natural Lighting

Automated solar shading systems can be designed to allow natural daylight into the building while stopping the build up of solar heat gain.

By optimising natural lighting, architects are creating an environment that mimics our circadian rhythm and creates an immediate connection with the outdoor environment.

Furthermore, automated solar shading reduces the need for artificial lighting, resulting in lower electricity consumption and associated CO2 emissions. Automated solar shading systems can be utilised as part of a daylight harvesting strategy, meaning the blinds can work in tandem with light sensors to maintain a desired level of daylight in a space.

When the sensors detect sufficient natural light, the blinds can adjust to balance the daylight and supplement with artificial lighting only when necessary. This approach optimises energy usage and office productivity by minimising the use of electric lighting during daylight hours.

A wide shot of the rooftop terrace at 150 Holborn, showing the motorised blinds covering the windows inside the building.

  1. Natural Ventilation

Automated systems can be weaved into a building’s ventilation strategy to comply with Part F of the Building Regulations.

The overarching aim of Part F is to ensure necessary steps are taken to provide adequate ventilation in a building to protect the health of occupants.

An automated solar shading system can be linked to the BMS to deploy/retract blinds as necessary to maintain compliant rates of ventilation. For instance, the system could be linked with a CO2 sensor and programmed to retract if the CO2 within the room reaches a particular level; something we did on our project at Sevenoaks School.

By doing this, not only are architects complying with regulations, but occupant comfort is enhanced, with research showing how natural air flow improves focus and productivity levels.

Sevenoaks School with sloping, motorised roller blinds

  1. Providing a View

Similar to enhanced natural lighting, providing a view to the outside is a major part of biophilic design and creating a connection with nature.

Studies highlight how employees experience an increase in productivity and decrease in stress when working in an environment that embraces biophilia and a view to the outside world.

If you’d like to discuss automated solar shading for your projects, please contact us here and our expert team will be in touch.

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