The Beatrice Shilling Building, RHUL

Egham, Surrey
Royal Holloway, University of London

A state of the art home for the new Department of Electronic Engineering

This STEM funded flagship building houses the new Department of Electronic Engineering, providing high quality lecture and seminar spaces as well as more specialist engineering teaching facilities.

The new facility sits respectfully within the existing historical Egham campus, in view of the monumental Grade I listed Founder’s Building.

This contemporary building creates a strong identity for the new department and strengthens the scientific character of this part of the campus. The striking façade of silver ‘shards’ set against a dark-grey background takes inspiration from a Faraday cage and alludes to the building’s use.

The multi-functional atrium pop-up supports the client’s requirement for natural ventilation by creating a stack effect; it also serves as a smoke reservoir and provides additional daylight to the top floor.

Attractive collaboration zones with a variety of furniture solutions have been designed in the atrium on all floors which enable students to meet and study informally.

Simple, efficient structural design allows for teaching spaces clear from obstructions and with the ability for internal spaces to adapt over time. These innovative learning spaces foster an atmosphere of creativity in engineering and are aimed at a diverse student population.

Lab activity can be seen through glazed screens. This creates excitement, showcases ‘approachable science’ and provides a feeling of safety when working late.

Academics are based in open plan office space which enables easier ideas exchange. Vice Principal, Professor Paul Hogg, explained:

It’s a building you want to be in…it’s a place where you feel stimulated to be creative.

This welcoming building supports Royal Holloway’s objectives of achieving gender equality and is very popular on campus. A sense of community – with approximately 30% female students, above average for electrical engineering – has already developed and as Technician Lisa, said:

I love this building, it is our building. Our students absolutely adore it, it’s their home.

An innovative form of construction

The University wanted the building to be flexible enough to respond to changing space requirements and student cohort numbers. We developed a long span, flat slab structural solution that allows easy re-configuration of partitions and services.

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.

The delta beams and pre-fab structure was fabricated offsite and erected onsite by a mobile crane. This approach minimised waste, traffic movements and noise pollution within the live campus environment.

Stakeholder engagement

The building design developed through stakeholder engagement workshops, involving university staff and students. Visits to precedent buildings proved invaluable, providing the opportunity to see tried and tested design solutions working in practice. This gave both the design team and client confidence that the decisions made were right for the university.

Divisional Director, Cora Kwiatkowski, who led the project through all stages, added:

We turned the client’s vision to provide an inspiring, creative and welcoming space into a reality which has already encouraged a more diverse student population to study engineering. It is fantastic to see the building so loved by students and staff alike.

Town Planning

Stride Treglown’s Town Planning and Architectural teams were instructed to coordinate and submit a reserved matters planning application for a new part three, part four storey 4,000m2 Electronic Engineering and Science Building (EESB) at Royal Holloway, University of London’s Egham Campus.

The proposals involved the demolition of an existing building on site to facilitate the development alongside car parking, landscaping and associated works.

The building will incorporate teaching space and a lecture theatre and is part-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England as part of the STEM programme – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – and specifically encourages young people, particularly women, into these traditionally male dominated subjects.

The reserved matters application followed the approval, in April 2015, of the outline planning application for the University’s masterplan up to 2031. This allows construction of an additional 55,000m2 (net) academic and operational floor space across the campus alongside approximately 2,650 new bedspaces and associated highways and other works. The outline application was also coordinated and prepared by Stride Treglown.

Timely EESB pre-application consultation with planning and highways officers was critical in outlining the rational and agreeing the approach and required supporting documents.

Following submission, a client requested redesign of parts of proposals required sensitive negotiations with officers and an agreed cessation of the processing of the application. Deadline extensions were formally agreed and the revised proposals were resubmitted in July 2016. The application was approved at Committee in August 2016 and we successfully discharged all subsequent precommencement conditions.