Stephane Beel Architects
Innovative external tension blinds provide a discrete system with great wind resistance
The redevelopment of the site of the Afrika Museum near Brussels includes the restoration and extension of the existing museum, sensitively designed to preserve the direct environment of the museum building as much as possible.
The exhibition rooms are subtly equipped with new technologies that bring the museum building up to date. Those technologies are highly sophisticated and have been integrated almost seamlessly: improved thermic isolation and airtightness, air-quality control, and precise control of incoming light to allow the curators to create the correct environment for their current exhibitions.
External blinds were selected for the new glazed extension to minimize internal ‘clutter’ around the windows which could distract focus from the exhibition specimens, as well as for maximum control of heat in the summer. The primary purpose of the blinds however was precise light control, allowing the museum to adjust light levels according to the specific requirements of each exhibition. It was very important that the blinds could therefore be deployed regardless of weather conditions, and without moving around excessively in the wind.
For the external design aesthetic, Stephane Beel Architects wanted the blinds to be invisible when retracted. Slimline mullions in the façade meant that there were however minimal fixing points. Guthrie Douglas and Helioscreen Projects worked with the design team to integrate the roller mechanisms into the façade structure. Stainless steel cables were used to guide the blinds, and a bespoke return pulley arrangement was designed to give the blinds additional stability in high winds.
45 TESSTM440 external wire-guided tension systems were specified and installed to the south and west facades of the building.
The success of the project was shown when the Africa Museum won the first prize and the public choice award in the category ‘heritage & architecture’ of the Publica Awards 2019.
Select Images © Luca Beel