Possible demonstration of environmentally sustainable design

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In operation since 1997, Smart Design Studio (SDS) is a well-established architectural practice with a diverse range of work – ranging from private homes to multi-level residential buildings and public projects – to its name.

An organization with a longstanding commitment to environmentally sustainable design, SDS recently moved to a new studio in Alexandria, a suburb in Sydney’s mid-west that combines a strong industrial history with a more recent period of regeneration.

Given that this was a new home base for the practice, which is expected to take it until around 2050, this was a flagship project for SDS. Beyond that, however, it was also a demonstration project. It was an opportunity to show what is possible in terms of sustainability.

SDS architect, Jo Ann Kok led the project to completion. Noting that notions of sustainability necessarily start with conservation, she explained that 80% of the building’s existing footprint, including the slab, has been retained.

“The original building had beautiful, slender roof trusses and natural sunlight pouring in…we kept all of that and refreshed the space with white interior features,” she said. “The project was to celebrate the existing industrial elements, both of the building and its immediate surroundings, and then to insert new components that were also industrial in nature but thoughtfully put together.”

Fans, hydronic under the floor and blinds

If conservation and respecting place were the first steps on the path to sustainability for SDS Studio, the next was ensuring it was carbon neutral. Now fully operational, it has achieved this goal. Its 260 PV panels generate all the electricity it (and the other buildings on the property) need and it has no air conditioning. Instead, natural ventilation along with ceiling fans, hydronic floor system and high quality performing blinds ensure the space stays cool.

As for blinds, Kok opted for products from Verosol’s SilverScreen Performance range. Manufactured using a unique technique known as ‘metallization’, the fabric used in these products exhibits heat and glare reduction capabilities that are unmatched by any alternatives. Specifically, they have been shown to reduce heat gain by 70-75%. Given the building’s dependence on natural light, these products were a natural choice.

“We used them throughout the project; especially on east and west facing windows, which receive the most sunlight,” Kok said, adding that in order to optimize their performance, “all blinds and windows are controlled by a system of building management, which in turn operates according to weather conditions. forecast.”

The effect of installing the blinds was immediate. “The difference is palpable. In the summer, with the shades down, it gets really cool, and then the shades go up and you instantly feel that warmth,” Kok said. “We had 40 degree days where we managed to stay cool at 27 degrees with the help of underfloor cooling and fans only… It’s a testament to how well these shades perform.”

Beyond performance, Kok was also sold on the aesthetic contribution of Verosol products. “They’re quite understated…their clean lines really worked for us, subtly supporting the architecture,” she said. They contribute, in other words, to the stated aim of celebrating the industrial nature of the building (and the suburbs) by the introduction of discreet additions only.

Help & support

When asked if SDS had worked with blinds of this type before, Kok explained that Verosol is their go-to supplier for blinds. “Over the years, in many projects, their contribution has been invaluable. They are always ready to offer advice on shade sizes and proportions, product capabilities…or even how to tackle difficult scenarios such as guide cables on sloped/tilted windows,” a- she declared.

“They were very supportive throughout this particular project helping us integrate the blinds into the building management system…as well as at the end of the project where they made several visits to review the blinds and advised us on the best way to take care of the products depending on their location in the building.

Since its completion in 2020, the Smart Design Studio project has received an overwhelmingly positive response, including a plethora of local and international awards. Combined with the reaction of SDS employees, who praised it as “a nice space to work in”, this reception clearly shows that the renovation has been a real success.

For its part, Verosol is grateful to have had the opportunity to work on the project and to have helped SDS to really show what is possible in terms of environmentally sustainable design.

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