Blog: Project of the Year +£10m SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Beatrice Shilling Building

02 May 2019

sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Beatrice Shilling Building, Royal Holloway - submitted by Stride Treglown

The BREEAM ‘Excellent’ 3,950m² Beatrice Shilling Building houses the University’s new Department of Electronic Engineering and it's available to the whole University to enable cross-fertilisation. Innovative collaborative learning spaces and supporting a new pedagogy of encouraging creativity aimed at a diverse student population, especially females, were essential planning features.

The striking building, showcasing its use through a metal façade with inspiration taken from a Faraday cage, creates a new identity and makes a significant contribution to the surrounding area, strengthening the science character of this part of the Campus. They also incorporated a roof-top field laboratory with photovoltaic panels and wind turbine to facilitate experiments in the area of renewable energy. Their planting design has incorporated ecological recommendations that enhance local biodiversity.

Entering through the day lit atrium with a variety of furniture solutions, users said ‘you get this uplifting feeling’. A series of teaching spaces – Creative Thinking Space, Teaching Lab, Fab(rication) Lab – allow the students’ creative design process to flow. A collaborative ‘Loughborough’ lecture theatre enables group working and closer contact with lecturers. Academics are based in open plan office space which helped create value for money by saving space.

A key objective for the University was to ensure that the building was complete for the start of the ‘18/’19 academic year. This required construction to be completed by early summer to enable the University to undertake fit-out activities including IT and AV. A concise, detailed programme was developed by Osborne to manage the construction process. This was shared with the University at regular meetings and a strategy agreed for anything that could compromise completion. The project was handed over on time and the first open day one day after Practical Completion went ahead as planned.

An innovative form of construction

The superstructure was designed through early engagement with the subcontractor PCE using a hybrid of structural steel and precast concrete with 14m long delta beams and precast planks. The delta beams provide a flat soffit which is beneficial not only for aesthetics but rapid buildability and distribution of services. 

This creates highly flexible column-free teaching and learning spaces on a grid which are easily adaptable in the future. Since the building was opened, some other departments have moved in, showing its flexibility and ability for easy adaptation. The majority of the concrete soffits were left exposed and services such as lights, heating and ventilation pipework, were surface-fixed below them. This meant that the manufactured concrete elements had to go through a rigorous quality inspection process during manufacture, and the handling of those elements during site installation had to be carefully planned and executed.

‘It’s a building you want to be in ... it’s a place where you feel stimulated to be creative.’
Professor Paul Hogg, Vice Principal


  • The innovative 3,950m² Beatrice Shilling Building fosters an atmosphere of creativity and enables new pedagogies. It provides a diversity of collaborative environments and opportunities of interaction whilst showcasing ‘approachable science’. It was achieved through close collaboration with the client, design team, contractor and supply chain.
  • Efficient design, which was executed to highest standard by Osborne, provides best value for the client and allows for highly flexible spaces, created by an innovative form of construction, with the ability to adapt over time. The additional benefits of this fast track construction included a reduction in the number of vehicle movements and additional noise, dust and vibration.
  • The partly HEFCE funded welcoming building supports Royal Holloway’s objectives of achieving gender equality, is extremely popular on Campus and already houses approximately 30% of female students.

For more details:

Visit Stride Treglown.

The SECBE 2019 Building Project of the Year over £10m Award is sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

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