Exeter University

University of Exeter Streatham Campus

Architect: Wilkinson Eyre
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Principal Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine

Exeter University Forum

The Forum is the centrepiece of the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus where forms a hub for this vibrant student facility. The Forum links a number of student services buildings with a dramatic freeform timber grid shell roof, with an area of over 3,200m2 it is the largest of its kind in the UK. SH Structures worked closely with the client and their professional team during the early development of the scheme. This early collaboration included having a design workshop at one of our previous timber projects, the Alnwick Garden Pavilion. This gave the team an opportunity to look closely at an existing timber grid shell roof and the use of ETFE foil cushions which were being considered for the university. After a lengthy tender process Sir Robert McAlpine were appointed as main contractor and they in turn appointed SH Structures to supply and install the grid shell roof.

The final development of the roof proved challenging with the majority of the engineered timber beams being fully flitched and due to its’ freeform geometry every one of the roof nodes was slightly different. Summer 2011 saw our work on site commence. Working from a full load bearing birdcage scaffold the roof was carefully put together as a kit of individual components. The finished roof provides an environmentally friendly dramatic enclosure which has gone on to receive numerous industry awards since being opened by Her Majesty the Queen in May 2012 during her Diamond Jubilee Tour.