Ever-Increasing Circles

Ever-Increasing Circles

First impressions tend to be lasting ones and a building’s main entrance is therefore a key aspect to any project – whether new build or refurbishment – where the architect will normally wish to make a bold statement. There is strong evidence also, that the technological advancements that have been made in respect of revolving doors over recent years have played a major part in enabling consultants to realise their ambitions. And as is the case in so many walks of life – size matters.

What Record (UK) has witnessed in the many different contracts with which it has been involved across the sectors, is a shift towards specifying ever bigger revolving doors. While in practical terms there is rarely any physical need to incorporate a door with a diameter larger than 2.5m, it is now quite common for designers seeking to push this figure to four, five or more metres. For one contract currently being undertaken, the diameter of the bespoke revolving glass door is 5.5m.

The heights, too, are steadily increasing, like with the stunning new internal lobby to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum featuring an installation by Record/Blasi that stands at 4m tall. Located within a room-height glazed screen, this has the effect of not only making a bold design statement, but also of maximizing the visibility of the historic aspects to the building’s interior spaces.

Transparency then is an attribute that comes very near the top of every architect’s or interior designer’s wish list. Very few companies in the sector, though, have the technical capability to comply with designers’ demands for maximising glass area and simultaneously minimizing the amount of metal framework required.

The type of glazing chosen has a significant impact on the extent to which this can be achieved, and there is a direct correlation between weight and openness. So while single-glazing featuring laminated safety glass is the normal selection, both double- and triple-glazed units can be incorporated, but with an increasing impact in terms of sight-liens.

As is often the case, developers have also had to deal with the conflicting demands of different parts to the Building Regulations and other legislation.

While Approved Document L to the Building Regulations is setting ever more stringent targets on energy saving, Part M and the Disability Discrimination Act have concentrated primarily on the accessibility of entrances.

So although a well engineered revolving door is the most energy efficient means of moving pedestrians in and out of large properties, they are not favoured by wheelchair users; whether or not the door is powered. The simple recourse for the specifier is position an automatically opening ‘pass door’ on one or both sides of the main entrance. This allows those with mobility problems or even people moving large objects, easier access to the building.

The other alternative facilitating the passage of unusual loads through a revolving door is to provide for the rotating leaves to be moved to the side, something Record UK can readily accommodate as part of its custom build service. This mechanical metamorphosis takes only a few moments for maintenance staff to achieve, and in some instances, record has also combined this adaptation with the flexibility of being able to rotate and therefore shorten the surrounding walls, effectively creating even more width to the entrance gap.

Beyond the visible aspects to revolving doors, the top manufacturers are also now able to offer customers great sophistication in terms of the operating systems and the way they can be monitored as well as controlled. Indeed, following Record’s acquisition of Swiss/German manufacturer Blasi three years ago, the group greatly increased its capabilities in being able to respond to client or specifier demands.

So not only can the motors be hidden away in the floor beneath the assembly, but instead of the ubiquitous knob control giving three or four settings, record’s new generation installations feature an RCD panel which can give direct feedback, either to the concierge, via a monitor, or to the building management system (BMS).

This facility offers real benefits in terms of safety and maintenance implications, as parameters such as door speed can be reported along with any fault status. Experience shows that most problems with automated doors, of all types, are caused by external factors such as sensors being obscured, and improved fault analysis therefore enables the situation to be dealt with more quickly and economically. Alert signals can also be sent to the facility manager’s lap top or by text to his mobile phone.

Not only does Record offer a full technical advisory service to assist architects and interior designers with specification issues, but it has recently established a new website (www.record.co.uk) to help everyone across the construction sectors understand the true potential of revolving and other automatic door systems.

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