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GKD: Shining protective shield for research centre

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Sun protection facade as a sustainable design element in Lake Nona

With the opening of a new academic research centre in Lake Nona, Orlando, the University of Florida is making room for a new generation of researchers. Around 200 PhD students from the fields of medicine and pharmaceutics have been able to carry out their research under the very best spatial conditions since the opening of the centre in November 2012. The building was planned and built in accordance with the stipulations for LEED Platinum certification. Part of this sustainability strategy is the striking sun protection facade made of stainless steel mesh from GKD –Gebr. Kufferath AG.

In the sweltering heat of Florida, solar collectors on roofs are indispensable for sustainable building. However, the reduction of solar irradiation into the building is also a crucial element of energy efficiency. The HOK firm of architects from Tampa, USA, turned this responsibility to their advantage and chose a sun protection facade with high recognition value for the new research centre. Like a protective shield, the mounted facade made of GKD mesh wraps around the sickle-shaped front of the building. The semi-transparent Escale 7x1 stainless steel mesh protects the glass facade behind it from direct sunlight without obstructing the view from the building interior. The sun protection facade measuring around 750 m2 is shaped out of ten trapezoidal mesh panels. To catch the viewer’s attention, the shining building shell is interrupted by a gap stretching from the top to the bottom of the mesh like a vertical strip of light. But even the offices and laboratories behind the encased areas are provided with enough daylight thanks to the special properties of the stainless steel mesh. These properties are also what convinced the planners at the University of Florida to use the GKD mesh as another step on the road to LEED certification.

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