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On 24 October last year, the T-Kwadraat leisure centre in Tilburg officially opened its doors. Sport and urban life go hand in hand in a remarkable way in the new building. In the completion of the project, the architect, customer and main contractor worked closely as a team. Through joining the table at a very early stage, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain managed to deliver a fire-safe glazing solution that dovetailed perfectly into the building process.

T-kwadraat is more than a leisure centre. It is the beating heart of the Nieuw-Stappegoor area in Tilburg, the Netherlands. After thorough redevelopment, the town district now offers plenty of opportunities for a modern living environment where there is space for housing, sports, nightlife and studying. The project had to produce a discernible centre that the district could blossom around. A challenging assignment for the architects’ firms Bo.2 Architectuur en Stedenbouw and Van Hoogmoed Architecten in designing T-Kwadraat. The new complex has a top-spec sports hall, including fitness area, climbing wall and sports-medical centre. In addition, there are catering and business areas, a crèche and an indoor ice rink to which ice skating champion Ireen Wüst from Goirle lent her name. The Ireen Wüst IJsbaan is a skating facility that meets the highest standards in professional ice sports.

Transparency
Sport as a contemporary social arena. This is how the architects put into words the objective in their design. In everyday life, this might mean taking your children to football practice and quickly doing a bit of shopping while you wait for them to finish. It is all possible in a building that is complex in structure, but still easy enough to find your way around. All the activities are concentrated in a large central open space that is linked to the surrounding areas in the leisure centre by way of foot bridges and views. The design’s transparency facilitates people’s orientation, says Mark van Tilborg, sales manager at Vetrotech Saint-Gobain. “The use of glass is an obvious choice here. The T-Kwadraat complex has a total of 1,100 m2 fire resistant safety glass. For the smoke-resistant glazing, classification E (stability), in walls and doors, the initial choice was Pyroswiss. Due to the dimensions, and the requirements with regard to sound insulation, fire resistant Contraflam Lite was opted for. In the stairwells and compartment partitions, where classification EW (stability and radiation reduction) is required, Contraflam Lite 60 was used. Moreover, in areas with differences in levels there was a combined requirement concerning glass fall-through protection and injury prevention. The Contraflam Lite product is fire resistant glazing that meets these requirements as standard. This combination of requirements and the aesthetic objective of the interior glazing makes T-Kwadraat a remarkable project.”

Work planning
The successful completion of a major project hinges on the quality of the planning. According to Rinie Klijs, calculator special projects with Saint Gobain Glass Solutions Zuid-Oost - Veromco Eindhoven, the completion of T-Kwadraat was distinctive in a positive sense. “At a very early stage, we discussed matters with planning engineers from van Heerkens Van Bavel and Remmers. This meant that it was clear early on which type of glass would be used and what the frame detailing had to look like. In addition, the logistics operation was discussed in great detail. It is quite a complicated building with multiple functions and a number of voids. This is why it is so important that you have good idea of how to get the right glazing in the right place beforehand, i.e. which pane will be installed first and which pane last.”

Construction team
As a public building, T-Kwadraat plays an important part in an area that is ready for a new future. The project is extensive and the requirements high, which makes the building a complex operation. The traditional separation between various parties involved in such a construction process may then be a hindrance. A solution is provided by the construction team, a close cooperation between customer, architect and contractor. This form of cooperation was opted for in the case of the Ireen Wüst ice rink. The contractor’s influence in a construction team has increased with regard to product choice. This has an important advantage, according to Joep Schoondermark, project leader on behalf of the building combination Heerkens Van Bavel / Remmers VOF. “The technical advantages of a solution and the related costs are weighed up more accurately. This was also true for fire safety. We received specific questions from the fire brigade and the customer concerning matters like: “What is possible with fire resistant partitioning? If we use glass, how are we going to define this and which constructions meet the fire-safety requirements?”. We were given answers to these questions by engaging Vetrotech Saint-Gobain and we received advice concerning possible solutions. As far as I'm concerned, you can’t get this advice early enough when involved in these kinds of large, complex projects. This accelerates the construction process and keeps the costs down.”

Working together
In the realisation of a design within a team, each party retains its independence and responsibilities. The strength is in the cooperation. Klijs has experienced this as something very pleasant. He values especially the early stage at which he was involved in this project. His colleague and project leader Noel Simons has experienced this in a similar way. “This building has, for instance, a wall consisting of 40 panes of glass. The requirement for one section was 30 minutes fire resistance, 60 minutes for the next section and then there was a section for which there was no specific requirement. These are typically the components with which you could expect problems, but this early harmonisation appeared to be a major advantage in this project. All the panes installed had exactly the right dimensions. This manner of cooperation is an important advantage for the finishing and consequently the timely delivery of this remarkable project.”
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