Blog: Value SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Beatrice Shilling Building, Royal Holloway

06 June 2019

Sponsored by Artelia Group

Beatrice Shilling Building, Royal Holloway - submitted by Stride Treglown

The Royal Holloway, University of London, wanted to create an iconic building that demonstrated its commitment, not just to engineering, but to creating a diverse, gender-balanced department. 

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

The project

The brief for the building specified a highly functional teaching and research environment that required coordination of specialist equipment and was simultaneously open, welcoming and promoted collaboration.

The site is in a constrained location in the middle of a live campus that posed challenges with regard to deliveries, especially the 14m long delta beams and concrete planks, and day-to-day operation of the site. Osborne showed sensitivity for the concerns regarding construction work in this live environment and the impact this might have on the day-to-day operation of the campus through meetings with the Estates team and additional banksmen. Furthermore, large oak trees were adjacent to the site and needed to be protected before the start of groundworks and throughout the project.

The structure

The superstructure was designed through early engagement with the subcontractor PCE. It used 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 can be 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.

A new identity

Stride Treglown incorporated a number of features to enhance education as well as the local built and natural environment:

  • 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.
  • It also incorporates a rooftop field laboratory with photovoltaic panels and wind turbine to facilitate experiments in the area of renewable energy for students to understand the energy generated by both.
  • Their planting design has incorporated ecological recommendations that enhance local biodiversity.
  • A series of teaching spaces – Creative Thinking Space, Teaching Lab, Fab(rication) Lab – encourages the students’ creative design process. A collaborative ‘Loughborough’ lecture theatre enables group working and closer contact with lecturers.
  • Academics are based in an open plan office space, which helped create value for money by saving space.

On time

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.

Happy users

The building has been extremely well received by students and staff. "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 client felt that the relationships that developed between the design team, Osborne and the supply chain subcontractors would benefit them for early advice on any future development plans.


  • The innovative 3,950m² Beatrice Shilling Building fosters an atmosphere of creativity and enables new pedagogies. It provides a range of collaborative environments and opportunities for interaction whilst showcasing ‘approachable science’. It was achieved through close collaboration of the client, design team, contractor and supply chain.
  • Efficient design, which was executed by Osborne, provides the best value for the client and allows for 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 building, partly HEFCE funded, supports Royal Holloway’s objectives of achieving gender equality, and already houses approximately 30% of female students. The client notes that Stride Treglown fulfilled the brief and exceeded expectations, particularly with the quality of finishes.

For more details:

Visit Stride Treglown

The SECBE 2019 Value Award is sponsored by Artelia Group.

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