Originally developed for use in the home, pre-fabricated skylights are still found almost exclusively in domestic settings, such as loft extensions. Working together, Foster + Partners and Velux devised a simple, affordable and sustainable modular skylight for a wider range of building types, from offices to schools, retail spaces and hotels. The highly flexible solution can be used to create a single roof light, a long light well or even cover an entire atrium.
The three skylights in the range are designed to fulfil different requirements in terms of size, placement and functionality. In keeping with the refined aesthetic of many of the practice’s office projects, the design has minimal detailing and can be discreetly operated by concealed motors. They incorporate a number of controls to adjust or limit a room’s ventilation, the amount of daylight, as well as the solar heat effect. Optional screening can also be specified to limit glare and to help prevent solar heating. Automated vent modules promote efficient natural stack effect ventilation to flush exhaust air out while drawing in fresh air.
The system is designed to be more environmentally sustainable than conventional skylights, achieving a high level of thermal performance through the use of pultruded fibreglass and polyurethane HELO® composite framing. Though of similar strength, the pultruded frame has a thermal conductivity 700 times lower than aluminium, as well as lower embodied energy. Combined with double or triple glazed units and the option of a very low pitch, the skylight provides one of the lowest U values on the market – from 1.5 to only 1.0 kWh/m2 for the complete framed assembly. In addition, the pre-fabricated units offer a higher, factory-assembled level of quality, with standardised flashing components mounted on top of a simple builders-work upstand. This reduces the installation time by eliminating the need for on-site glazing and the assembly of silicon joints.
Roof lights are automatically controlled to allow for natural ventilation, using energy efficient motors. With high thermal resistance in the frame - which is better than aluminium and PVC and comparable to wood - the product has the best thermal performance of any roof light on the market.
To minimise packaging waste, Velux are developing a system of packaging reuse. The roof light has a standard packaging size to minimise waste, and allow for easy storage and transportation.
The product is designed for modular construction, improving the efficiency of manufacture and reducing waste. The frame material contains high pre-consumer recycled content and is made from non-toxic materials. It can be crushed and used as road fill, if disposed of. Lifecycle analysis shows the roof light has a better environmental profile than traditional aluminium skylights, due to the framing materials superb ability to reduce air gaps.
Designed to be unobtrusive, the lights reduce potential aesthetic concerns for historical buildings. The lights have an innovative, near vertical use option for flexibility.