Cora prides herself on her collaborative approach to working with clients, contractors and consultants. Her focus is on user experience, and she has extensive experience in collaborative stakeholder engagement. Cora enjoys resolving complex design briefs to create places for people and deliver award-winning buildings.

As Head of Universities and an accredited RIBA Client Adviser, Cora helps clients to plan, structure and develop projects from the earliest stages. Her extensive experience and impartial advice add value to projects and ensure a quality outcome in design and delivery.

Cora, what drives your career in architecture?

My passion for promoting good design, placemaking and great user experience; seeing the finished building and how it is used by people is very important to me. I love to foster a sense of creativity and community whilst respecting the context and environment in my designs.

Beyond my work at Stride Treglown, I encourage excellent design of the built environment as Commissioner at the Design Commission for Wales (DCfW) and by chairing two design review panels for Design West and DCfW.

What are the key challenges affecting your sector, or are likely to in the next five years?

Beyond the obvious impact of Covid-19, universities are looking to improve the student experience, while increasing space utilisation. The focus will be more on repurposing and reinventing the existing estate whilst working towards their net zero carbon targets rather than large new buildings in the near future. We are developing space solutions to support institutions in attracting and retaining students and staff, especially during these times. Considerations of individual and collective wellbeing, control over their environment, inclusivity and a strong community all contribute to the success of the university. This means that they are all competing with each other to offer innovative and attractive campuses that will inspire students. It is our job to support them in this challenge; creating and/or reinventing buildings that offer flexibility – now more than ever – and adapt to students’ needs.

What are the current big trends in your sector?

Super sustainable buildings and campuses and providing spaces for collaboration on campus. We are currently designing 2,250 new student residences for the University of the West of England (UWE). The new accommodation will most likely be one of the biggest student living Passivhaus scheme in the world and is an essential part of  UWE’s ‘2030 strategy’. When students have returned to the campuses, I believe blended learning and home working is still there to stay. Some universities we work with have already included virtual hybrid rooms where students can meet in person and virtually. There will also be a shift to more formal and informal social spaces where students can interact, created by freeing up areas that were previously used for large lectures or professional service staff. I recently discussed these themes and more on the Future Learning Environments podcast.

What is your proudest moment?

Walking into a finished building and seeing people using it the way it was designed. Their reactions mean a lot to me. The Beatrice Shilling Building for RHUL was ‘Highly Commended’ at the British Construction Industry Awards with the judges commenting: ‘Excellent project, great outcome. I felt that there had been lots of great communication and everybody got what they needed.’ Despite the great feedback and award nominations, the best part was going back once it was completed and hearing how much students and staff enjoyed using the space I had created.

Interesting fact that nobody knows about you?

I have two horses and compete in show jumping and dressage events up to regional level. It really helps me to clear my head and focus outside of work.

Industry Bodies:
  • Bristol Business School: Best Student Experience, Education Estates Award
  • Beatrice Shilling Building RHUL: British Construction Industry Awards, Social Infrastructure Project of the Year – Highly Commended
  • Rosenberg House: Shortlisted for the Patron’s Award of the Almshouse Association
  • Eastleigh House: LABC Award Best Inclusive Building, BCO South West Best Refurbished/ Recycled Workplace, RICS South East Best Commercial Building
  • Women in Construction and Engineering European Awards (WICE) 2019: Finalist ‘Best Woman Architect’

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