TechMed Centre

TechMed Centre of the University of Twente

A glass cathedral

In the Dutch town of Enschede, a listed technical hall made of steel and glass was converted into a centre for medical technology. It was possible to preserve the original character of the building thanks to the extra narrow facade profiles, forster unico xs.


The listed former technical test hall of the University of Twente was extensively renovated by the architecture firm Team T in a process that began in 2017. To this end, the building was first completely dismantled by the general contractor, Dura Vermeer Bouw, down to the load-bearing steel framework and the concrete ceiling slabs. The hall, which is over 100 m long and 18 m high, is designed like a church with a nave and two side aisles, which is why it was quickly given the nickname “Glass Cathedral”. In its central axis, there is a continuous nave, which is crowned by a coffered flat ceiling. The two lower side aisles, each of which contains three office floors, are connected to it lengthwise. Today's TechMed Centre is flooded with light, which solely comes in through the glass facade. The outer steel and glass construction slopes inwards like a vault in the eaves area of the nave, only to culminate in a flat gable roof above the coffered ceiling.

Glass partition walls separate the office areas from the main hall space, which is characterised by pergolas on the upper floors and cross-connecting steel bridges. An open ceiling installation with an unobstructed view of countless pipes reinforces the character of an industrial monument.


Extra narrow and recyclable

Jan Prikken, responsible for the facade waterproofing at the executing facade construction company, Rollecate, emphasises the architects' wish to preserve the original character of the old steel structure as much as possible. “However, the existing cold bridges had to be eliminated.” This was particularly true for the old window brackets – simple T-profiles that were welded directly to the steel supporting structure. A narrow profile was therefore required. The insulated steel profiles of the forster unico series from Forster Profile Systems were the ideal contemporary counterpart to the original facade appearance. The profile has a stainless steel insulator and meets the current requirements by far. An additional side effect is that the profile is 100 percent recyclable.


“At first we wanted to propose the regular forster unico series,” explains Mark Machielsen, project manager at Agentor, Forster's Dutch representative. “However, we realized that the architects wanted an even narrower profile,” Machielsen continues. “This was the reason for us to develop a project-specific solution together with the facade manufacturer, Rollecate. The result is a further development of the narrow profile forster unico XS.” In fact, it was possible to reduce the profile cross-section by almost a third compared to the regular profile.


Colourfast vintage look

The original facade was designed as structural glazing. This means that the panes were placed on the frames from the outside without an additional holding rail. The further development of the profile therefore focused on three main issues: the right appearance, the right profile width and the right colour. Jan Prikken explains: “A RAL colour on the profiles would have made the overall appearance too smooth, which is why we chose a powder coating in bronze. It also gave us a solution for subsequently applying paint to welding or other detail points on site.” In addition, the other profile system components had to be adapted to the surface colour. In particular, the shade of the sealing compound was matched to the profile colour and the composition was tested for colour stability and durability. For this purpose, a mock-up was set up on site, where not only the construction details were checked but the wind and water tightness of the facade as well.


Energy-saving focus

Although the architects created office space in the side aisles, connected them with bridges straight across the hall and then attached elevators and stairs to them, the former “Technohal” retained its old silhouette. After the thermal modification of the steel construction, the new building shell was mounted on it while retaining the old building grid of 6.20 m lengthwise and 1.55 m crosswise. This procedure reduced the construction costs considerably. It also allowed a classic window frame installation from bottom to top. The glazing that was subsequently installed is a double sun-protected HR++iso glass SGG Cool-lite SKN 165.


The facade installation began in winter 2018 and was successfully completed in just under a year later. On 29 November 2019, King Willem Alexander reopened the former Technohal and renamed it the TechMed Centre. Since then, 1500 students, 400 employees and 500 trainees have been using the glass building complex, which has been awarded the energy label A++ not least because of its new facade.

Enschede, Netherlands

Glazing forster unico & project-specific solution with forster unico XS


Team T consisting of: Defesche Van den Putte architectuur en stedenbouw, Amsterdam | Bo.2 rotterdam, Rotterdam

General contractor: Dera Vermeer Bouw

Facade constructor: Rollecate