A health centre in Belfast has been transformed following the completion of the final phase of a major construction and refurbishment programme. The Arches Centre features innovative use of Technal’s architectural aluminium systems including around 100 windows in large spans, different colour combinations and frame sizes.
The lead design architects were Penoyre and Prasad LLP, with Todd Architects as executive architects, and the glazing systems were fabricated and installed by WFM Ltd in two contracts worth around £700,000.
The £15m centre is one of the first buildings of its kind in the UK, providing community health and social services under one roof. The original 1950s health centre has been extensively refurbished and doubled in size with the construction of a new purpose-designed facility. The two buildings are linked by an impressive atrium space at the heart of the centre, created using Technal’s roof glazing.
The design theme for the building is lively and uplifting and the colourful windows are central to that. Dual colour tilt/turn casement windows were supplied by Technal from their FXi46 suite and 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 palette of colours.
Polyester powder coated infill panels were inserted into the window frames and were also finished in different colours, creating an animated and dynamic 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.
Commenting on the specification of the window system, Alan Holloway of lead architects Penoyre and Prasad LLP, said, “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.”
A ‘stained’ glass façade constructed from Technal’s curtain walling spans three storeys above the main entrance. 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.
Trame Verticale curtain walling encloses the three-storey circular stairwell. The system was glazed in dark grey anti-sun glass, silver caps accentuate the vertical lines to further balance the building, and concealed vents allow natural ventilation.
The Arches now accommodates seven GP practices and brings together treatment, care and information services which were previously provided from a large number of buildings across east Belfast. These services include speech therapy, dentistry, district nursing, physiotherapy, homecare, health visiting and citizens advice.
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