Kalwall sheds light on Research & Development

A £4m extension to the globally recognised Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) at the University of Strathclyde has used Kalwall® to solve an interesting problem. The Centre houses Europe’s largest forge – to be precise an 8.5m high 300-tonne hydraulic press forge – along with the associated isothermal, cooling, furnace and manipulator plant.

Kalwall was used on the original structure. The addition of the new extension has seen a Kalwall clerestory surround added to bathe the interior with diffused daylight. A clever system of removable 6 x 5 metre Kalwall rooflights has been installed allowing for the craning out of the plant machinery to service and maintain when needed. The rooflights not only allow for this vital function but, similar to the clerestory, cast daylight deep into the building below.

For projects like this, the use of Kalwall means that natural diffused daylight is transmitted deep into the interior space. This means there is an even balance of light throughout with no hotspots, glare or shadows, therefore removing the need for any blinds or shutters. Its properties also mean there are fewer issues around solar gain as the unique composition reduces inward radiation and conduction five times more effectively than glazing. At the same time, Kalwall provides line-of-sight protection and additional thermal insulation, thereby further reducing the reliance on HVAC systems and artificial lighting.

The durability and low maintenance of Kalwall is also a factor in installations such as these. Tested to ASTM E661, Kalwall rooflights can be walked upon and every panel exceeds the safety requirements of OSHA 1910.23 without the additional need for external screens or fixed standard railings. This strength also helps overcome any potential issues of thermal shock where extremes of temperature from the forge and activities below are offset by the potential cold outside.

Kalwall panels can be selected to transmit various percentages of light according to individual project requirements. Using Kalwall’s free daylight modelling service, the desired lux levels can be calculated for any space.

Kalwall, exclusively available in the UK and Ireland from Structura UK, is a popular choice for all types of building around the world. The cladding’s inherent strength and heavy-duty impact resistance make it ideal for secure locations.  U-values as low as 0.28W/m2K, equivalent to a cavity-filled solid wall, can be achieved by including translucent silica aerogel within the panels. Options such as explosion venting and blast resistance can be incorporated as required.