The Arches, Belfast

Architect: Penoyre and Prasad LLP; Todd Architects
Main contractor: Farrans Construction
Fabricator: WFM
Awards: RIBA Award; Civic Trust Award Commendation
Products: Trame Horizontale and Verticale curtain walling, Technal roof glazing, tilt/turn FXi46 casement windows, concealed vents

The Arches, a £15m community health and social services centre for South and East Belfast Trust, features innovative use of Technal’s façade systems, including around 100 windows in different colour combinations, frame and span sizes.

The scheme has remodelled and extended an existing 1950s building to provide a larger health centre and combine a number of community and social services under one roof.

Two buildings are linked using Technal’s roof glazing to create an attractive and welcoming atrium space at the heart of the centre.

A ‘stained’ glass façade constructed from Technal’s curtain walling spans three storeys above the main entrance. Here, the double glazed units are structurally bonded to the curtain walling system to give the appearance of one large pane of glass. An abstract image of a flower, signifying regeneration, growth and health, was printed onto vinyl film and applied to the inner face of the double glazed units.

Dual colour tilt/turn casement windows from the FXi46 suite were finished in a variety of colours – grey, red, blue, black and purple – contrasting with the white rendered external envelope. Internally the frames are white, with the opening vents taken from the bright palette of colours.

Infill panels were inserted into the window frames and were also finished in different colours, creating an animated appearance. The windows, which have mullions of varying sizes, were 2.4m high for the front elevation and used as 1.5m high units in 11m long runs to the rear of the building.

Trame Verticale curtain walling encloses the three-storey circular stairwell. The system was glazed in dark grey anti-sun glass, with silver caps to accentuate the vertical lines, and concealed vents to allow natural ventilation.



The Architect’s Perspective

Alan Holloway, Penoyre and Prasad LLP:

“Using a variety of colours and frame sizes for the windows was an aesthetic decision to create a sense of dynamism, whilst balancing both buildings. Because most of the rooms at the front of the new building are used for consulting, we wanted to have a high level of light deep into each room.”

“The solution was a window system capable of achieving large spans with all the low maintenance benefits of aluminium. We chose a composite window using fixed and opening lights that could be curtained off at the lower level for privacy.”