The brief for Alder Hey was ‘ambitious and aspirational’, comments BDP project architect director Ged Couser, and emphasised ‘greenery’ and ‘views’ within a ‘therapeutic and innovative’ context. When it came to selecting windows for the project, the VELFAC system was an early choice, specified ‘because it is a high quality product, and because of the composite frame,’ comments Ged. The glazing is installed across the hospital and in a number of configurations including striking ribbon runs, glazed inset walls leading to terraces, and within ‘jewels’ – large cantilevered bays clad in boldly coloured rainscreen panels used to punctuate exterior facades.
The composite frame delivers durability and meets the design brief. Externally, aluminium framing is finished in dark grey, contrasting with red sandstone coloured concrete walls, green roofs framed with a silver parapet coping, and the multi-coloured bay windows. ‘The inner pine frame was used to add warmth to the interior, especially the bedrooms,’ adds Ged, ‘and the slim fame construction was also vital. We wanted to give every habitable room a view of the surrounding parks and gardens, and the VELFAC frame design maximised this view while also increasing levels of natural light.’
Energy efficiency was also essential, given the Trust’s ambition that Alder Hey should be the ‘most sustainable major acute hospital in the UK’. The excellent U-values delivered by VELFAC standard double-glazed units guaranteed impressive insulation across the hospital, and made an important contribution to the BREEAM Excellent rating awarded to the build.
It was also important that VELFAC could meet the demands of the innovative off-site construction methods employed by Laing O’Rourke, and having worked with the company on other similar projects, the VELFAC technical team was well prepared to meet the challenge. Closely involved from the outset of the project, VELFAC liaised closely with Laing O’Rourke and BDP to ensure window manufacture and delivery met the production schedule in place at Laing O’Rourke’s factory.