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    Retractable roofs: bringing the great outdoors, indoors

    Bonnie Tai

    No longer reserved for just large-scaled sports stadiums, retractable roofing systems are fast becoming a hot commodity for restaurants and hospitality venues to maximise on space and create dynamic social atmospheres for customers.

    With demand for both alfresco-style and dramatic rooftop dining on the rise, retractable roofing structures are being employed nation-wide in restaurants and eateries to allow for patrons to enjoy the outdoors at any time of the year – with solutions for Australia’s many and varying climate zones.

    Promoting vibrancy and pedestrian activity, these roofing structures offer a seamless flow between interior and exterior spaces paving the way for a greater return on property, and with more seating options, increased revenue for proprietors.

    Libart Australia, a major roofing innovator in the architectural space, has been promoting, designing and installing these systems in Australia for five years.

    Libart development manager, Richard Gillan, says that though the retractable roofing concept is relatively new, clients discovering the opportunity for the first time simply say: ‘I want it’.

    “Our expectation for the product in this industry is very, very optimistic,” he says.


    Case Study: Hotel Sorrento

    Hotel-Sorrento-IMG_1637.jpgImage supplied by Libart 

    Standing proudly on a cliff top overlooking the waters of Phillip Bay in Victoria, is Hotel Sorrento – the site of one of Libart’s latest installations.

    A picturesque hot-spot for weddings and conferences, the brief for the Hotel Sorrento installation called for the integration of a retractable roofing system to the dining area without compromising the original architecture of the iconic building.

    Libart’s answer was a glass roof area that spanned 7.5 metres by 6.1 wide that consisted of three bays with four self-cleaning glass panels in each bay, yielding a 75 per cent retraction of the roof.

    To drive the roof, a three-phase motor and worm drive system with wall mounted control was implemented, and to top it off, the inclusion of a rain sensor to automatically close the roof in the event of rain or showers.

    Matching the sandstone building - historically significant to Sorrento - the aluminium beams and support structure had to be powder coated.


    Environmental advantages 

    Aside from the obvious benefits associated to installing retractable structures, ie the control of the elements – sunlight, rain and airflow – a lesser known advantage is the energy efficiency associated with the investment.

    With sustainability initiatives becoming more and more prevalent in contemporary architectural design, manufacturers of roofing systems have adopted a greener way of thinking.

    The use of insulated glass is also widely utilised in many of the market-leading systems, ensuring warming sunlight is captured in the winter months and deflected in the summer months – keeping power bills down and reducing the need for auxiliary air conditioning units.


    Case study: Hazelhurst Arts Centre Cafe

    IMG_0991.jpgImage supplied by Vergola

    A custom-made Vergola louvre opening and closing roof -- an alternative to the retractable system – was specified for the Hazelhurst Arts Centre Café project in Gymea, New South Wales.

    The brief called for an expansion of the existing outdoor café space that could be fully protected from the elements and functional all year round.

    The calling was answered with a Vergola eight-bay opening and closing roof system spanning 60sqm.

    Metallic in finish, the Vergola system installed features a double-skin aerofoil shaped louvre, creating an insulating air gap that reduces heat radiation to the dining space below, ensuring patrons are kept cooler in the hot summer months.  


    Five of the latest products solutions available in Australia 

    Papilio retractable roof by Aalta Australia
    papilio-aalta.JPG
    Image supplied by Aalta Australia

    The Papilio retractable roof by Aalta Australia is a modern and stylish structure with single posts and a front beam. The supporting structure allows for straight drop screens to be fitted so that a totally weather-proof outdoor room can be created 


    Custom-made retractable roofing systems by Blind Eleganceblind_elegance.JPG
    Image supplied by Blind Elegance

    With a flick of a switch, a purpose-built retractable roofing system from Blind Elegance can provide 100 percent rain protection, ensuring a friendly social atmosphere – no matter the weather 


    Eurola’s Star Weathersmart retractable roof
    Eurola_star.JPGImage supplied: Eurola

    Eurola's Star retractable roof system offers a patented speed drive gearing system that can achieve projections of more than 15 metres without the motor overheating. Featuring an integrated support frame that has hidden drainage, ensuring unsightly drainage pipes are hidden.


    Libart custom retractable roof systemslibart_retractable.JPG

    Libart’s range of retractable roofs are custom-designed and manufactured to suit individual requirements. All systems feature either laminated or double glazed glass for thermal performance. 


    Vergola opening and closing louvred pergolasWinston-Hills-Hotel_powdercoated-colour_flat-roof_steel-frame.JPGImage supplied by Vergola

    Vergola opening and closing louvred pergolas offer versatility and functionality. Offering sensor-controlled closing mechanisms, this system ensures that you’ll never get caught out in the rain. 

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