When the internationally renowned and celebrated architect Renato Benedetti first consulted with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 2014 on how his practice would revitalise and restore its historic headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, he knew that dynamic glazing would have a huge part to play.

Benedetti Architects had conceived an ambitious and inspiring vision for the project that was borne out of the discovery that two of the original roof lights from the building’s original construction in 1883 had since been covered up by renovations in the 1970s to transform it into a darkness-filled cinema.

The plan was not only to expose these original roof lights and retain their iconic heritage, but to then lift them up and build an entirely new floor for the building that would be showered in natural light and offer direct sight of the tree lined St. James’ Park located just next door.

“Hand on heart we knew, and we said to the client, that there will be smart glass technology that we will use for the envelope over the top of this,” explains Benedetti, “without ever knowing exactly what that smart technology would be.”

“We weren’t talking completely off the top of our heads; there was smart technology in 2014, but what we didn’t realise was that there would be an entirely new product which was smarter and better than all the other ones which we were aware of at the time.”

Letting the light in to improve worker wellbeing

The product they chose, and which now sits atop the new floor of the Grade II listed building, was Eyrise’s s350 Instant Solar Shading Glass which enables all of the health benefits of being basked in natural light to be absorbed while keeping up the majority of harmful rays out.

“The clear aspect that we loved with going with Eyrise is that it’s taking out 80% of all the stuff that you don’t want with too much glass in a room, but it still looks clear,” he adds.

The installation of this cutting-edge technology which utilises a dynamic liquid crystal configuration within the glazing itself meant that BAFTA could use solar shading to control how much light and heat would pass through the glass and into the building.

For those using the space, this offers the opportunities to maximise the health and wellness benefits generated by having access to natural light, which in addition to playing a vital role in ensuring sufficient levels of Vitamin D, have also been found to play a role in improving satisfaction and productivity.

But beyond those benefits to the individual, the technology also opened up the prospect of a circular and sustainable route to manage the heating and cooling of the building that would otherwise have not been possible.

Affording control of both how much light and heat was absorbed into the building, the Eyrise s350 could be calibrated to offset the need for artificial heating and cooling systems: with more heat allowed in when cold, and less let in when warm.

Lowering costs while maximising sustainability

In the case of 195 Piccadilly this enabled the architects to preserve its Victorian look and feel by retaining as many of its original features as possible which – by being enshrined in the dynamic glazing – could be brought up to the exacting modern performance standards that minimise leaked heat and maximise efficiency.

“Our Victorian heritage building had old technology and original features which leaked heat, giving us a high EPC rating”, explains Pauline Campbell, head of property at BAFTA. “Working the Eyrise glazing into our project ensured our EPC is now B48, which is comparative to a new build, something that would never have been possible without the Eyrise technology.”

The success of this project in combining the look and feel of the old with the sustainable possibilities of the new has led to BAFTA being able to dramatically expand the scope of its charitable works within the building with the addition of the new floor doubling its capacity.

But it has also shown just what can be done with bringing old buildings in line with modern demands, with the renovation being judged as the Supreme Winner at the 2022 Surface Design Show as evidence that ‘retrofits can be incorporated into the demands of the 21st Century.

To find out more about Eyrise solar shading glass, download the whitepaper below.