Robertson Ventilation supplied and installed an operable solar shading system at the BMW headquarters in Midrand.


The term “solar shading” was a buzz-word in the architecture industry a few years ago, but this is quickly being replaced by a newer, more holistic solution. Solar harnessing systems are a complete end-to-end solution that design professionals should be considering.

“Inflated use of glass in facades, in the meantime, in combination with constantly increasing energy prices, motivates improved use of the sun as an unlimited resource without cost. Partly contradicting parameters such as daylight and glare or solar gain and overheating open up a narrow corridor for proper planning. User-friendly designs require expertise and know-how as well as planning skills,” explains Chris Edwards, group managing director of Robertson Ventilation Industries (RVI).

One of RVI’s key businesses is creating comfortable indoor climates. The company’s specialist sun shading division, Architectural Solutions, is pushing the boundaries in developing dynamic innovative facade solutions.

The company recently installed an operable glass louvre application at the BMW Group’s head office, located in Midrand. The company worked with the architects and building consultants to create a solution that not only fit the aesthetical requirements perfectly, but also delivered groundbreaking climate control solutions.

The solar harnessing system that was installed at the BMW Group’s head office in Midrand was engineered, manufactured, supplied and installed by RVI as an international operating company that works closely together with specialists from Europe. The system forms a truly distinguished composition of main and secondary facades.

The application forms an integral part of the inner courtyard’s facade and it cannot be seen from outside. The courtyard, which has a round, almost circular shape, has been equipped with vertical glass louvres. The louvres rotate and follow the sun by means of tracking the sun’s azimuth. The system is mounted externally, which adds enormous benefits to solar heat gain reduction.

The louvre system was designed to block the majority of solar intensity from the outside, while daylight is being transferred indoor, helping to keep daylight at convenient levels and covers glare control to some extent. These partly contradicting effects are very much dependent on the glass panel make-up and the tracking regime.

Design professionals may wonder why an operable shading system is the best way to go. The answer, says Edwards, is simple: There is no “best angle” for a fixed system and very few buildings rotate with the sun.

“An ideal indoor climate for the user is only achievable through a dynamic building envelope that reacts automatically to changing weather conditions. Customised controls offer plenty of additional functions. It’s about added value that pays off so much that customers do not want to do without it nowadays. Therefore one of the key components of a greatly performing shading system is formed by the controls,” explains Edwards.

BMW’s new solar shading system is dynamic and can change according to the sun’s position and the weather in order to optimise the flows of heat and light energy through the facade. This in turn may have a positive effect on reducing the heat load and glare, enhancing the use of natural daylight, thereby reducing the operating costs of the building and providing comfort and wellbeing to the occupants at the same time.

“We are passionate about making a difference in the lives of people and we do this by providing world-class tailored solutions which often push the boundaries of technological advancement. The culture we have developed in the group is about surmounting challenges with integrity and innovative design. This really is what drives us on a daily basis and what puts us in a position where we are leading the industry for others to follow,” concludes Edwards.

RVI Robertson
Tel: 011 608 4640
Fax: 011 608 4643