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'Floating' Blinds at King's College, London, Somerset House East Wing

The Project

In December 2009, King’s College London acquired the East Wing of Somerset House, one of London's most beautiful and iconic buildings. The next requirement was to transform the interior of this Grade 1 Listed building into teaching and working space that was modern and functional, but still preserving the historic features and character of the original.

The Challenge

The brief from architects BDP to CBS was to provide ‘floating’ blinds for solar control. The concept was that it would be a mistake to add modern blinds to the historic windows, but they should be presented as a separate element, and appear as if ‘floating’ a little apart from the window. At the same time they had to be highly functional and efficient.

The CBS Solution

CBS provided a blind fabric with the optimum combination of see-through and insulation in a colour that complemented the building period. The ‘floating’ requirement was met by designing a headbox with concealed brackets that would stand the blinds slightly away from the windows so they really did appear to be ‘floating’, with no visible fixings.

H.M. Treasury Redevelopment, London, 1996-2002

The Project

The Grade ll listed Treasury building, between Horse Guards Parade and Parliament Square, was completed in 1917. The architect, Foster and Partners, was appointed in 1996 and described the task as follows: In refurbishing the building, the challenge was to transform a labyrinthine and frequently under-utilised set of spaces into an efficient and enjoyable working environment. (http://www.fosterandpartners.com/projects/her-majestys-treasury-redevelopment/)

The Challenge

The manually operated window blinds had to be strongly made, virtually maintenance free and fire retardant, as well as meeting demanding performance requirements. These included a high degree of insulation; the optimum amount of ‘see through’ for office workers; as well as the provision of privacy and security. In addition the blind fabric had to have the correct porosity to allow air transmission to complement the building’s natural ventilation system, which involved fresh air being drawn into the building through the windows.

The CBS Solution

CBS ‘SYSTEM 3’ contract quality roller blinds were specified with woven screen fabric. In order to accommodate the performance requirements, which sometimes conflicted with one another, CBS worked with the  producers to develop a specially woven fabric which delivered the optimum result and met the demanding specification of the consultants. This proved highly successful in trials and ‘SYSTEM 3’ blinds were installed throughout the building.

British Museum - World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre

The Project

This £135 million redevelopment, the largest in the Museum’s 260 year history, provides an exhibitions centre, advanced conservation facilities, collections management and storage – as well as research laboratories and offices. Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners with Mace acting as Construction managers.

The Challenge

Shading requirements included very large room darkening blinds, up to 16 square metres; horizontal skylight shading; and external solar control roller systems. Invariably the blinds were electrically operated and required co-ordinating into the project’s advanced control systems. For this high profile new build project, with its diverse elements, compliance with the contractor’s schedule required project management of a high order.

The CBS Solution

Large room darkening blinds can be problematic because any changes in the room pressure – for example opening and closing doors or windows – is transmitted to the large areas of blind fabric and can cause them to pull out of the side channels. CBS overcame this with its DOLOMITE blind system, where the flame retardant blackout fabric is held securely in the side channels by a fastener system. For solar control of the skylight areas the CBS SYSTEM 8 rooflight blind was specified, which keeps the solar control fabric under constant tension so that there is minimal sag.

North Manchester College

The Project

The transformation of Harpurhey Baths, a grade 2 listed building, included restoration of the first class male pool, which involved a major upgrade to the roof lantern, as well as installing a new sprung floor.

The Challenge

The continuous central glazed roof required a shading system which had to be operable, to respond to changing weather conditions and, because of the extensive area, had to be electrically controlled.

The CBS Solution

CBS installed 16 of their SYSTEM 8/140 motorised blinds in the lantern, with all 8 blinds on each elevation operating together, as one group. The blinds stack neatly on the sills and run up unobtrusive guide cables to the apex. These cables are kept under constant tension so that there is minimal sagging in the solar control fabric. This was a challenging project for CBS, to install these blinds 8 metres above floor level in a 1909 structure where many elements were out of square.

Walker Simpson Architects commented “The challenge of providing a flexible, electrically operated blind solution to a continuous central roof glazed element of a grade 2 listed former Victorian swimming pool has been successfully achieved”.