THE BIRMINGHAM team of national built environment consultancy Curtins is celebrating alongside lead architects Sheppard Robson following the announcement that the University of Birmingham’s £45 million project came top in four categories at the RIBA West Midlands awards, including being named the Building of the Year 2019.

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), which opened in 2018, is a hub for science and engineering teaching with multi-functional labs for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and team working. The team, led by Sheppard Robson, also took home the RIBA West Midlands Award 2019, the RIBA West Midlands Sustainability Award 2019 and the RIBA West Midlands Project Architect of the Year Award 2019.

To add to the awards success, the project was also the winner of the Sustainability Award at the Institute of Civil Engineers West Midlands Awards 2019.

Associate Matt Woodhall, the office lead for Curtins in Birmingham said: “We’re incredibly proud to be a part of this fantastic project team. CTL has been one of the most rewarding projects to work on, namely due to the positive working relationship between the design team, the client and the contractor. The whole team was focussed on creating an innovative and contemporary teaching space.

“We’re thrilled that this recognition by RIBA acknowledges that great architecture is supported by great structural design.”

Sheppard Robson had a vision for two flights of atrium staircase that spanned 11m floor to floor, without intermediate support. Curtins designed a steel truss arrangement for the staircase; providing what appears to be a gravity defying staircase in an expansive and light atrium space. The need to connect to Bio-sciences was achieved through a link bridge, supported from a Y shaped column and cantilevers towards the existing building. Curtins made the structure as light and slender as possible to provide the required vision, as well as providing minimum impact on the existing building structure.

Trevor Payne, director of estates at the University of Birmingham, said: “In a time when there is a wealth of university buildings being delivered, CTL stands out as one that has been transformational to the way STEM subjects can be taught in such environments. This is a university building where the architecture not only supports and improves the delivery of research and science courses, but also facilitates collaboration between departments that previously had operated independently of each other.

“The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory represents a shift in how our students are taught STEM subjects, and this is an excellent example of how intelligent building design hand-in-hand with academic priorities can create a remarkable building. We are delighted and very proud to have won four awards at this ceremony.”

Curtins is an award-winning engineering consultancy that has been in Birmingham for 28 years, having worked on some of the city’s most iconic projects, including the Mailbox. For more information, join the conversation on Twitter at @CurtinsConsult.