High-Tech Pergolas

Turning seasonal decks into year-round entertaining spaces.



PHOTOGRAPH courtesy of bioclimatic structures

 

A year-round, comfortable outdoor living space is every homeowner’s dream; however, a number of variables – not least of which being Mother Nature’s unpredictability – have for years relegated such a notion to the world of fantasy.

At a coastal home in southern Florida during the summer, for example, an outdoor living room might be a prime relaxation area during the morning or evening; but during the middle of the day – when the sun reaches its apex  – that same living space could be sweltering and, quite frankly, unlivable.

Cover that same area with a permanent roof or an awning for shade and it becomes the perfect retreat during the middle of the day, though perhaps uncomfortably cool during morning or evening hours.

Fortunately, there is a solution. For almost two decades, the French company Solisysteme has specialized in the design and construction of aluminum and stainless steel pergolas equipped with adjustable louvers, greatly enhancing outdoor living and dining spaces in thousands of homes worldwide.

More recently, BioClimatic Structures has partnered with Solisysteme, becoming the French firm’s exclusive U.S. distributor and bringing those same revolutionary pergolas to homes across the Atlantic.

“People have enjoyed expanding their living  spaces,” says BioClimatic’s owner Chris Wehmeyer. “These pergolas have improved the quality of our customer’s lives at home because they can now enjoy their outdoor spaces so much more.”

Solisysteme produces two pergola designs: the Arlequin, a structure made up of colored roof panels that slide on tracks, which allows homeowners to create a customizable and retractable patchwork-like covering for their outdoor living and entertaining areas; and the Bioclimatic, a pergola equipped with adjustable aluminum louvers that can rotate 160 degrees.

The latter design is the more popular of the two styles due to the rotational capabilities of its louvers.

Not only can the louvers rotate to adjust the brightness of the living area beneath the pergola, they can also be placed in positions that enhance the area’s ventilation, further cooling an outdoor space during the hotter times of the day.

“The louvers can be 90 percent closed so you’re in full shade underneath,” says Wehmeyer, “but the air will still be circulating, which cools the space more than a roof could by itself.”

Equally noteworthy is the BioClimatic pergola’s rain sensor, which will automatically close the louvers in 30 seconds or less (depending on the size of the pergola) when a single drop of water lands on it.

“People understand the concept,” Wehmeyer says, “but when they experience it – when they’re outside eating dinner and the pergola closes automatically as it starts to rain and they don’t even have to get up – that’s when they love it.”

Additional enhancements include heaters, LED lighting and motorized shades for added privacy, all of which will affect the overall cost of an installation.

Wehmeyer says that a freestanding, four-post pergola covering 100 square feet and equipped with motorized louvers and rain sensors will cost about $8,500. The same installation for an area covering 360 square feet typically costs about $18,000.

Residents of coastal and oceanfront homes need not worry about the durability of Solisysteme’s pergolas, as they’re constructed from powder-coated aluminum and stainless steel, which makes them impervious to maritime conditions.

What’s more, Solisysteme’s pergolas are certified to Miami’s hurricane standards, can drain up to 9 inches of rainwater per hour and can support up to 60 pounds of snow cover.

BioClimatic louvers can even be retrofitted into existing structures, sometimes with very little difficulty, provided those structures are sufficiently strong. “If you give us an open square or rectangle,” says Wehmeyer, “we can put the system in it.”

THE DETAILS

For more information, visit bcstructures.com.

 

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