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Moving Structures: Rotating Roof Cowls

Bespoke kinetic solutions for unique challenges in architecture

The Challenge

Completed in 2000, and designed originally as the National Centre for Popular Music, this Sheffield city centre development comprises four circular ‘hubs’ joined by a two-storey glass-roofed foyer.

The distinctive roof cowls were not only a striking design feature, they also housed an innovative cooling and ventilation concept. The stainless-steel clad cowls rotate to face the wind, channelling its power to increase the building’s ventilation efficiency and reduce power consumption.

The Solution

ARX engineered the rotating mechanism on which the cowls turn, while also developing an automation system to sense wind direction and smoothly move the 10-tonne cowls into position. The system can synchronise the cowl positions to an accuracy of ±10mm.

In addition to this automatic operation, each cowl can be controlled completely independently, allowing for safer maintenance and repair access when required.

Technical Details

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