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Projects / Office / HSBC HQ


Advanced Solar Control Window Blind System for HSBC Boardroom and Presentation Suite

The iconic Canary Wharf World HQ of HSBC has been fitted with an advanced shading system for the top floor boardroom and presentation suites by Bright A Blind, the blind management company. The company has installed an elegant solar shading system to make the room attractive, comfortable and efficient.

The HSBC building, 8 Canada Square, houses around 8,000 employees and was designed by the architectural team of Sir Norman Foster and Partners. Completed in 2002, it is distinguished from the surrounding towers by the stylish horizontal bands in the curtain walls and the elegant rounded corners.

At the top, the building has a distinctive white crown bearing the HSBC name and logo. The boardroom is located on the 42nd floor, just below the crown. At 18 metres wide with eight-metre high glazing, corresponding to a double floor height, sunlight floods the room and provides spectacular panoramic views over London. On the opposite side of the building a similar room is used for presentations.

Roller blinds had been installed at the outset to provide solar shading in both the boardroom and presentation suite. The 12 full height blinds of 1.5m widths have proven mechanically unreliable and irritating because of light leakage at the edges.

The challenge for Bright A Blind was three fold. First, to provide shading for the room that would minimise solar heat gain and glare. Second, shading needed to permit some visibility through the fabric. Third, there had to be a blackout capability for presentations or when teleconferencing with other HSBC locations around the world. No single blind system can meet all these needs and so a hybrid shading system was the answer.

A decision was taken at an early stage to triple the window blind width, using just four full height blinds of 4.5m width. This minimises problems of light leakage and also provides a more aesthetically pleasing presentation with fewer vertical lines and blinds that are more proportionate to the glazing. These larger blinds are much heavier than the original ones and so bespoke engineering was essential to support and drive them. This included fitting tubular motors in oversized barrels with specially fabricated brackets to support the system.

To achieve primary solar shading with visibility and an additional blackout blind facility required the use of double blinds. Being made from Helioscreen three percent fabric ensures the first set blinds are effective in primary solar shading. This Belgian fabric has a semi open weave to permit some visibility. It comprises a tough and durable glass fibre fabric with a PVC coating in an attractive charcoal grey colour.

Secondary shading, to give total blackout, is provided by a parallel set of blinds on the inside of the first set, but supported by the same brackets. This set of blinds is made from a close weave blackout fabric that obscures light completely for presentation viewing and video conferencing.

Smooth and efficient operation of the blinds is achieved by the use of Somfy motors. These compact drives, from a French manufacturer of world renown, comprise tubular motors installed within the barrel in which the blind fabric is wound. Each set of four blinds operates together in perfect synchronisation so that the desired degree of shading or blackout is achieved quickly and without fuss.

The hardware elements of the system, such as barrels, end sets and brackets were made by blinds hardware specialist Guthrie Douglas. Bright A Blind brought the various components together to fabricate the complete blinds and undertake installation and commissioning.

As blind management specialists, Bright A Blind has access to a vast range of fabrics, hardware systems, motors and controls. The company are therefore able to fabricate bespoke shading, selecting components that are best-in-class. Because of their experience and operational capability, Bright A Blind can keep these systems in peak condition over their whole lifetime. Many headquarters buildings benefit form their products, blind maintenance contracts and blind cleaning and refurbishment services.