Case Studies

Case study: 140-Year-Old Department Store Retrofitted with Rooflights

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Established in 1882, the family-owned Barkers Department Store in the market town of Northallerton in Hambleton, North Yorkshire, England, offers a fascinating history having expanded by buying out neighbouring properties.

In 2022, Barkers embarked on a project to replace the rooflights in all four atriums positioned in the centre of the store above the ladies’ fashion department.

“Unfortunately, running a building that’s over 140 years old means there’s lots of maintenance involved,” explains maintenance manager, Iain Macleod. “Joining neighbouring properties together means that the store is on different levels, with different roofing and windows with different requirements, which can be quite a task for the maintenance team.”

Specialist contractor, Howells Patent Glazing from Halesowen in the West Midlands, was appointed by Barkers on the recommendation of a roofing contractor to supply and install the replacement rooflights, although Macleod subsequently decided to manage the entire roofing project himself.

Using a medium duty self-supporting glazing bar powder coated in RAL 7024, Howells subsequently designed and manufactured four roof lights. 

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The roof lights feature 28mm double glazed units comprising an outer pane of 6mm toughened clear solar control with self-clean coating; 16mm argon filled cavity with black warm edge spacer; and 6mm toughened inner pane.  The centre pane achieves U-value 1.0W/m2K.

The opening size of the first roof light measures 9660mm and includes three opening lights operated by 240V actuators each wired to an internal control panel with rain and temperature sensors.

The second is a smaller mono pitched roof light with no openings, measuring 3911mm wide.  Numbers three and four are single pitch roof lights with an opening size of 7120mm and three opening lights each.

A challenging installation

There were many challenges associated with this project, for both Barkers and Howells.  The biggest problem for Howells was installing during an intense heat wave.  At peak times the high temperature caused the bars and glass to heat up and they became too hot to handle.  Working at height also meant that the installation team needed additional sun protection and had to stay hydrated.  Howells introduced a shorter working day to prevent heat exhaustion.

To avoid delays caused by the searing heat, Howells employed a second installation team to speed up the installation.  The roof lights were completed in around one month.

Barkers faced different issues during construction.  “Trying to keep the disruption to a minimum on the shop floor during our summer sale was particularly tricky,” says, Macleod. “Losing large areas of the shop floor meant having to temporarily relocate departments and concessions while the work was going on.

“Another big challenge was keeping the premises secure overnight when the old roof lights had been taken out.  We had to install timber hoarding inside, underneath the roof lights, to maintain the security of the store.”

The importance of natural light to the customer experience

Macleod says: “Natural light is important for our customers to see and appreciate a true reflection of the colour of the clothes and accessories.  Sometimes colours can look completely different under artificial light.

Day lighting also supports the department store’s commitment to looking after the environment by reducing its dependency on electric lighting, with a recent solar panel installation, LED lighting and a new Biomass boiler further contributing to energy efficiency.

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Staff Reporter

FMIndustry.com covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

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  • Staff Reporter

    FMIndustry.com covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

    View all Articles

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