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The University of Birmingham’s state-of-the-art School of Engineering building demonstrates the institution’s steadfast commitment to preparing the next generation of engineers. Spanning 12,000 square meters over five floors with a striking double-height atrium, the £46.5M facility was developed to provide students with a first-class engineering education while fostering opportunities for successful collaboration between academia and industry partners.

Providing a variety of flexible, contemporary spaces, this innovative building enhances the student experience by facilitating involvement in cutting-edge research, opportunities for collaboration across engineering disciplines and a learning environment that develops students’ understanding of the industry by mirroring the workplace.

Key building features include open-plan areas, a Student Support Hub, a 179-capacity Design Centre, seminar rooms, computer labs, study spaces and other unique additions, like a full-sized set of railway points and a hydrogen-powered train test track. Sitting adjacent to the £16.4M Centre of Excellence in Rail, part of the UK Railway Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), this new building also complements the university's strength in rail research.

Our experts became involved in the School of Engineering project when it was discovered that the proposed building design did not meet standard Building Regulations guidance. The design focused on the provision of two central atria, which connect the upper floors of the building. The atria would be open to the floor plates and include bridges and open balconies forming the egress from several academic offices, flexi-bays, and meeting rooms.

The Jensen Hughes team developed a fire-engineered approach to demonstrate an appropriate standard of safety. Our approach, which reflected the already high standard of safety in the building, considered the geometry of the building, the occupancy characteristics of the building user, the potential fire loading and risk of fire.

We demonstrated that the proposed design would achieve as good, if not better, standard of safety than found in a code-compliant design, and the building’s fire strategy was approved by Building Control and West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service. Our seamless process and expert solutions ultimately helped to ensure the project met requirements and was completed on time.

The University of Birmingham School of Engineering building opened in 2021, providing an environment where future engineers can receive the education they need to achieve pioneering advancements and address our greatest global challenges.

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University of Birmingham

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Featured Experts

Henry Wilkinson

Senior Director, Fire Engineering

Manchester - England

MEng (Hons), Chartered Fire Engineer, Member

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