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Vanishing shades of origami

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Aluminium sunshades by Studio BAAD are crimped into triangulated pleats to screen a curved glazed wall BY SUSAN DAWSON. PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEREMY COCKAYNE

'We've got three buildings for the price of one, ' explains Philip Bintliff of Studio BAAD, describing the effect of the new sunshades on his Simon Jersey headquarters at Altham, near Accrington.

They are of expanded aluminium sheet, triangulated into a series of delicate origami pleats.

'From the outside, the shades are opaque and dominant during the day, but at night, when the lights come on, they completely disappear to reveal the curved forms of the building. But it's best at dawn, when the building can just be seen through the shades, as if through a veil.'

The new sunshades are the latest addition to a building which started life 10 years ago when Simon Jersey, a manufacturer of industrial clothing, commissioned Studio BAAD, then a relatively unknown practice, to build a headquarters and garment distribution centre on a greenfield business park. Since then the building has been published in the AR (3.91), and AJ (13.5.99), and the client's success - and the building's flexibility - has been reflected in a continuous building programme. (No sooner had the white sail screens to the design studio appeared on the cover of the AJ than they were dismantled and re-erected on a further extension. ) The sloping site allowed the architect to accommodate production, design and storage in a silver 'crinkly tin'-clad shed on the lower part of the site, with administrative offices at an upper level, with views of distant Pennines. A glass entrance 'drum' at the west end is reflected by a three-storey glass 'drum' at the east end; between them a single-storey sinusoidal wall encloses an open plan administration office. The three-storey drum, completed last year, houses accounts in the basement, an open plan office for directors above, and, on top, a presentation suite for training and for fashion shows to clients. The walls are fully glazed and face south. The architect's methods of tempering solar gain have developed over the years.The original Simon Jersey building, an earlier development on another site, was clad with reflective body-tinted glass.

'We realised that tints affected the quality of view more than we liked, ' explains Philip Bintliff.

On the present building the entrance drum was glazed with clear glass fritted with white dots to give an unmodified view out, yet reduce solar gain.

'The client didn't want to see more of the same, so we had to find a way of using clear glass and shading it, ' he adds.

The scale of the sunshades evolved to create a sheltered external route around the building, for instance, from restaurant to garment storage areas.

The use of expanded aluminum sheet was a stroke of inspiration. Normally used in construction as a key for external rendering, the material is manufactured by piercing and stretching steel or aluminium sheet. It forms a mesh of twisted horizontal blades which act like micro-louvres, giving effective shading but good visibility. Mill-finish expanded aluminium sheet was chosen for lightness and low maintenance. It was manufactured by Dramex to the architect's specification, with a wide strand width to cut out horizontal sunlight and to maintain stiffness between the supports.


ARCHITECT Studio BAAD: Philip Bintliff, Ray Phillips, Guy Smith






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