If you were around in the ‘90s, the chances are you’ll have kept in mind Baz Luhrmann’s long running chart topper titled Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). The song split audiences: there were those who loved its pop philosophical content and positivity, while others despised its patronisingly didactic nature. But whatever our criticism of this song, rarely did we think, well, it’s one thing for us as individuals to wear sunscreen but what about the buildings we all work in? The fact is that buildings need sun protection too if their employees are to stay safe. external louvres for buildings are an entirely different kettle of fish. Commonly known in varieties such as brise soleil and glass louvres, they protect buildings’ external shells as well as the things and people inside them.
Brise soleil carry out their function by shading the outward façade of a building in a stylish and streamlined fashion in keeping with the rest of the existing building. Often abstract in their design, they are brilliantly well-suited to public art galleries outdoors. In fact, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park gallery is one example of a building that makes use of a brise soleil to excellent effect. The shade is designed and positioned such that it works with the changing light and temperature according to the season. In summer, much of the large exterior window of the gallery will be kept in shade at noon. In wintry times, on the other hand, when the light is weaker and the temperature colder, only the top section of this window will be cast in shadow. A possible added feature (not so desirable in an art gallery but rather more so in a corporate space such as a lobby or reception room) with a brise soleil consists of a special design feature that allows special patterns of light into the room. If you’re the manager of a building that’s been purpose built for a particular company, you might plan on trying to tailor the pattern of light to the company’s needs: why not reproduce the corporate logo or make a new design suggestive of their brand values?
Glass louvres and external louvres are slightly different from brise soleil, meanwhile. Glass louvres can practically function as independent structures; think of the famous glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Paris gallery known as the Louvre. One difference is that in Paris, the pyramid actually links to the main building and is visible when you look skywards from a position underground.
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