Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), University of Birmingham

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), University of Birmingham

A striking design and multi-award winning Collaborative Teaching Laboratory for the University of Birmingham, consiting of an Engineering Lab and a state-of-the-art facilitiy for practical STEM teaching laboratories,

Higher Education - West Midlands

Project Overview

The multi-award winning Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) represents a significant investment by the University of Birmingham in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects with a vision to transform practical teaching in this area.

The CTL has been delivered in two phases. The first phase was completed with the creation of an Engineering Lab in the existing Mechanical and Civil Engineering building on Campus.

The second, much larger, phase of CTL delivered a state-of-the art facility for practical STEM teaching via the creation of a Wet Lab, Dry Lab, E-Lab and Discovery Lab surrounded by informal learning spaces in a new building the learning space incorporates a number of different schools.

The building contains the first parametric windows formed out of engineered timber. They comprise of a standard aluminium curtain walling system the back boxes are custom designed from engineered timber.

Services we provided:

  • Civils & StructuresCivils & Structures
  • EnvironmentalEnvironmental


University of Birmingham

We worked with:

Architect: Sheppard Robson
Contractor: Morgan Sindall

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The Challenge

The project was to be the first building to contain parametric windows formed of engineered timber, with a standard aluminium curtain walling system.

Our Solution

To assess the design, a full size mock-up was produced to test for wind loading and weather tightness.

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), University of Birmingham

Project Highlights

Key Points:

  • Brise Soleil above cantilevering entrance canopy

  • Stair trusses within large atrium span 12m without support

  • 13m long bridge link to Bio-Sciences building without applying load to existing building large cantilevers to lab spaces

  • Structure built within easement of 2 large diameter public sewers


On the University of Birmingham Collaborative Teaching Laboratory project your team never struggled to provide us answers to the information we needed. You helped us to develop our design concepts, working in a very collaborative way.

Alex Solk, Sheppard Robson Architects


  • 4 awards at the RIBA West Midlands Awards 2019: Building of the Year; Sustainability Award; Regional Award Winner; and Project Architect of the Year to Alex Smith of Sheppard Robson.

  • Highly Commended for Design Through Innovation at the RICS Awards 2019: West Midlands

  • Structural Engineering Awards 2018, Midlands Counties Regional Group – Education Structure Award, Commendation

  • Highly Commended at the West Midlands Celebrating Construction Awards 2019

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), University of Birmingham

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