The CW175 curtain wall system from Capral Aluminium Ltd met the architect’s brief for the glazed facade on the University Hospital Geelong building.

One of Victoria’s largest and most sophisticated regional public hospitals, University Hospital Geelong provides crucial healthcare services to the State’s second-largest city. The $98.3 million expansion project will deliver emergency, palliative and intensive care treatment for residents of Victoria’s central coast, including expanded oncology and orthopaedic wards, each comprising 32 beds. Other improvements in the seven-level facility include eight additional sub-acute beds, a cancer care wellness centre, as well as ‘sky gardens’ overlooking the nearby Corio Bay. The hospital is also a teaching facility, with formal links to Deakin University and The University of Melbourne.

Built by Kane Constructions and designed by Silver Thomas Hanley (STH) Architects, the structural additions provide four extra levels of useable space above the existing emergency department. One of the biggest changes is the incorporation of the highest possible number of single bedrooms.

A predominantly glazed facade neatly satisfied the requirements for airy, light-filled wards while safeguarding thermal and acoustic performance criteria. After considering the project challenges, including site constraints, access and delivery schedules, the architects chose the CW175 curtain wall system for its flexibility, engineering and structural integrity.

Developed and manufactured in Australia by Capral Aluminium, the CW175 is a structurally glazed system providing a robust and flexible curtain wall solution for small to mid-sized projects. Being structurally glazed, the system may be installed so that no aluminium surface is visible from the outside of the building, resulting in ultra clean lines and a contemporary external appearance. Alternatively, aesthetic beads may be fitted to the outside to give a strong aluminium look. A key consideration for specifying the CW175 was the strict AS4284 testing regime undertaken by Capral.

A major challenge faced by the installation team involved overcoming the cramped and restricted access to the building site while achieving high quality finish and performance level. STH Architects Associate David Collins explained that the system needed to be installed solely from the inside of the building without requiring any major access from the outside. The Capral CW175 curtain wall met the requirements of the architects’ brief with its internally managed installation processes.

The curtain wall allowed them to maintain access to the emergency department below the building works, which could not be impeded under any circumstance during the installation. The installation process was also very quick, enabling them to make the occupied building watertight. Collins explained that it was important to mitigate water ingress as soon as the slabs became exposed because of the occupied spaces below.

A third motivation for specifying a locally made curtain wall system was the easy and flexible management of site workflows. Collins says the presence of local manufacturers saves time and effort in two ways: not only are local companies able to respond more swiftly to tenders, finalising pricing more readily than overseas counterparts, but they also have the capacity to react instantly to one-off requests throughout the cycle of a project.

Capral Aluminium worked with West Coast Windows, the facade fabricator and Menzel Glass, the glass installer, both local Geelong-based companies, on the glazed facade. Collins explained that energy efficiency and patient comfort called for rigorous thermal performance, while a helipad designed to go on top of the building necessitated tight acoustic control. The solution was a Low-E performance glazing IGU system (6mm clear/12mm with argon/ 10.38mm laminated external glass) with SuperBlue tint. This configuration minimised the internal reflectivity.

The CW175 also offers the option of integrating vertical or horizontal sun shading directly onto the curtain wall system, without sacrificing structural or watertight performance. The fixed horizontal articulated shading system provides extra shade and comfort to selected rooms, and patients can make use of manual radial or sheer blinds to control light levels in their own rooms.

All suppliers and trades working on the project were locally sourced, providing much-needed employment to local companies. Capral’s CW175 curtain wall was engineered and manufactured locally to specifically accommodate Australia’s climatic conditions, and designed to meet the stringent National Construction Code.

Capral’s National Marketing & Technology Manager Jeff Rotin commented that the University Hospital expansion provided them the opportunity to collaborate with West Coast Windows and BG&E Facades to deliver a striking outcome.