Royal Holloway, University of London

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Open to students since September 2018, after two years of work, the new Beatrice Shilling Building at Royal Holloway, University of London creates the relaxed atmosphere of a shared work space in an academic setting. Designed by Stride Treglown architects, the 3,950-sq.-m building has a breath-taking glass atrium three storeys high. The idea is to encourage students to take advantage of the premises that are open 24 hours and 7 days, outside lecture hours to collaborate in groups and thereby “develop their creative approach” according to the official intentions expressed.

Being enjoyable to use was a major architectural goal, especially with women in mind. Cora Kwiatkowski, divisional director at Stride Treglown, wanted to attract women by having plenty of open areas and quality spaces. The goal was nothing less than to contribute to improving the proportion of female engineering students in the UK, which is significantly smaller than in other countries. This building’s vocation is therefore to inspire the next generation of students to emulate Beatrice Shilling, who lent her name to the edifice and was a pioneer in aeronautical engineering in the UK, famous for improving the performance of RAF fighters during the Battle of Britain.

Texaa®’s acoustic material Vibrasto is an essential part of the aesthetic and feel of quality. “There was significant reverberation and echoing. Our brief was to support the acoustic correction”, explains Christophe Foulonneau, the Texaa® representative for the United Kingdom.

The architects, who came across Texaa products at a trade show, didn’t want to be restricted by Vibrasto’s standard 1.5 metre width. Hundreds of strips of vastly varying dimensions were cut out in a range of 12 colours. Stretched over large expanses of wall in layers 30 mm thick, the different widths and colours were distributed around the three storeys of the building. Besides its sound-absorbing properties, the covering has a class zero fire rating and is offered in two other thicknesses – 15 and 55 mm – and in a range of 22 colours. The architects chose brown and red for the ground floor; green, orange and yellow on the first floor and grey, blue and purple on the second floor. The overall effect creates an interesting rhythm within the mix of spaces including a lecture theatre, seminar rooms, laboratories and creative and collaborative spaces.