Structural glazing, domes and barrel vault rooflights transform learning spaces with daylight
The School of Architecture at Cardiff University is housed at the grade II listed Bute Building. Designed in 1911, and originally home to a technical college, today the historic school houses a future generation of budding architects.
A renovation with architectural heritage
At the Bute building, large areas of roof glazing had been originally installed to courtyard structures to bring daylight into spaces where access to natural light was sparse. Rooflights had deteriorated with age, causing issues with heat and temperature control. A decision to renovate the Bute building to improve user comfort and energy efficiency was agreed. But being grade II listed meant any renovation would need to preserve the prestigious architectural heritage of the building.
Structural glazing, domes and barrel vault rooflights
On closer rooftop inspection, a decision to replace 70 percent of existing rooflights was made, presenting a large glazing area that included separate installations varying in shape, size and pitch. VELUX Commercial was chosen to consult, design and install a bespoke structural glazing system, prefabricated dome and barrel vault rooflights. But first, VELUX Commercial were tasked with the removal of old rooflights.
VELUX Commercial worked closely with contractor R&M Williams throughout the renovation project, and provided advice on bearing loads and structural calculations for all glazing units. Comfort ventilation was chosen to be integrated into product selection. The addition of venting modules was taken to support student safety in the event of a fire, improve occupant well-being, and comfort.
The largest rooflight renovation was located in a courtyard area, above a communal study space. A structural glazing system designed with aluminium bars to resemble the shape of the old wooden beams was specified. Load bearing weight was a key consideration and resulted in a lighter weight glass system being chosen. The courtyard building included four large ridgelight rooflights, each designed and built in various shapes and sizes to fit existing infrastructures. Five specialist mono-pitched rooflights were also designed to replace rooflights at the rear of the building.
Double glazing enhanced thermal insulation and also improved the acoustic performance for a more harmonious study space. In the main building, four prefabricated polycarbonate domes and six barrel vault rooflights were specified to let in natural light and fresh air.
Logistic challenges overcome by flexible design
Layout of the building, especially roof access was complicated in terms of removal of existing glazing, delivery of materials onto the roof and workspace available for the installation. This needed to be factored into design plans. The flexibility of VELUX Commercial solutions afforded the ability to include prefabricated and bespoke solutions that matched the original design and would not impact the fast-paced schedule of the project.
Pre-assembly of rooflights and a bespoke structural glazing system resulted in a successful six week installation of 19 rooflights built with ultimate design flexibility. Today, student study and design in a comfortable, productive and creative environment transformed by daylight.