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Brise soleil systems use a series of horizontal or vertical blades to control the amount of light and solar heat that enters a building.

The challenge

Modern architecture for schools or offices often features large areas of glazing to provide more natural daylight, create a feeling of space inside and (potentially) improve the comfort and wellbeing of occupants.

However, controlling the interior temperature of glazed buildings can be a complicated issue. While heat from the sun can be beneficial at certain times of the day or year, too much 'solar gain' during the middle of the day or in summer can cause overheating. The orientation of the building is also a factor - different elevations of a building will have varying levels of solar gain.

The solution

One of the ways to control or reduce the impact of solar gain is to use brise soleil - external structures that offer a practical and architecturally aesthetic way to diffuse light, especially when combined with internal solar shading such as blinds.

How do they work?

Brise soleil ― from the French word ‘sun breaker’ - project above glazing (usually horizontally) to prevent glare and reduce overheating. More recently, vertical solar systems have become popular. Both systems allow low-level sun to enter a building in the mornings, evenings and during winter but cut out direct summer sun, which rises to a maximum angle of 62 degrees in the UK.

Brise soleil can be made up of blades or take the form of solid shelves (or even walkways) and are constructed from a range of materials, including aluminium, stainless steel and sustainable wood. Aluminium can also be coated to look like wood.

Where can they be used?

Brise soleil systems can be installed to the exterior of any building. They’re particularly beneficial when glare or conducted heat from solar rays are likely to cause discomfort for the building occupants. Brise soleil are used on school buildings, retail outlets, office blocks and residential housing.

In short

  • All buildings need to control the solar gain from prolonged periods of sunlight
  • Brise soleil systems are a practical solution ― they use a series of angled blades to control the amount of light and solar waves Brise soleil can be manufactured in a range of materials, designs and colours
  • Blades are typically wood or metal (or metal to look like wood)
  • More advanced systems have motorised louvre blades that can automatically change angle in response to changes in sun concentration
  • As well as being practical, brise soleil systems often form architectural features on a building

For advice on solar shading performance and options, contact one of our project consultants.