School of Medicine, Cardiff

A new flagship medical education centre in Cardiff features curtain walling options and casement window systems from Technal.


The Cochrane Building accommodates the School of Medicine on Cardiff University’s Heath Park Campus at the University Hospital of Wales.  It is now one of the largest facilities of its kind in the UK, home to over 3,000 students and staff, and is a major international centre for medical teaching and research.


The brief for the project was to bring all the school’s departments together in a single location and to create an exciting and vibrant place for learning.  The age and condition of the previous facilities on the Heath Park campus and a steep increase in student numbers had led to an acute shortage of suitable facilities for medical professionals.



Structural Glazing for a Flush, Seamless Finish


The new building is designed around a central atrium and features extensive use of our GEODE-MX curtain walling to allow high levels of natural light into the centre of the building. The capped visible grid option was specified for the main entrance and the top two floors of this six-storey scheme.  Structural glazing with a mechanical toggle rather than silicone bonding was used for the full height stair towers at the ends of the atrium, which provided a seamless, flush finish and an effective contrast to the capped curtain walling in the other areas.


Ribbon glazing on some elevations and opening vents in the curtain walling were created from the FXi65 projecting side and top hung window systems. These allow the building to be naturally ventilated, drawing fresh air in through the exterior façades.



A Lively Accent for the Building Envelope


A distinctive feature for the building envelope is a series of staggered aluminium panels finished in a bright lime green.  These units were fixed into the window or curtain walling frames and provide a lively accent to the scheme’s otherwise neutral palette of gun metal grey and white render.

The Architect’s Perspective


Mark Jones, Project Architect, Powell Dobson Architects:


“Lots of natural light and good levels of natural ventilation were central to the design of this building – and the curtain walling and window systems were key to delivering that. We are impressed with the Technal products and would definitely consider using them again on other projects.”



A Highly Restricted Hospital Site


Fabricated and installed by Vision 2000, the Technal systems were polyester powder coated in dark grey and glazed in grey tinted solar control glass.  Passive ventilation louvres were also inserted into the window frames on one elevation. 


One of the challenges for this project was its highly restricted hospital site with no room for material storage. The Vision team overcame this with a phased delivery and installation programme and the use of Technal products that are designed to reduce time on site.



A Wide Variety of Architectural Compositions


As this project demonstrates, the GEODE-MX curtain walling can be used to create a wide variety of architectural compositions from a single grid system – low to high rise façades, horizontal or vertical emphasis, and ribbon, structural, faceted, beaded and sloped glazing.


The FXi65 casement window system, which is fully compatible with GEODE-MX curtain walling, features curved profiles and delivers superior thermal efficiency using a 19mm flush polyamide thermal break and innovative gasket detailing to meet or exceed the latest Building Regulations.  It can accommodate 17mm up to 48mm glazing units for wider choice to provide additional thermal or acoustic performance.  Configuration options include fixed lights, top, side and bottom hung, tilt/turn and tilt/slide.



A Low Energy Building


The 6,300 sqm Cochrane Building is a low energy building that is designed to BREEAM ‘excellent’ aspirations.  Its design includes elements such as passive ventilation, a building envelope for minimal air leakage, good natural light, energy-efficient lighting and controls, solar shading, high levels of insulation, a green roof, solar water heating and high efficiency boilers.


The scheme is designed as three interlinked areas unified by two atrium spaces.  It accommodates a twin-storey inter-professional library, state-of-the-art clinical skills simulation training facilities for medical students, postgraduate teaching areas, seminar space, student support services, group study rooms and an innovative ‘learning hub’.