B & K Structures – Farnborough College of Technology

Project Details

Project - Farnborough College of Technology
Sector - Education
Architect - B & K Structures  
Technology - Hybrid


Project Overview

Farnborough College of Technology offers a wide range of education programmes accredited by the University of Surrey. Designed to be the College’s flagship building, the University Centre Farnborough, is a major step towards the College reaching its objective of becoming a community university. As the main entrance to the college, the new two-storey hybrid structure incorporates the benefits of cross laminated timber panels, glulam beams & timber cassettes – combined to create a modern teaching & learning facility.

The rectangular building is formed from two triangles separated by a centrally positioned roof light. Each triangle gently slopes upwards towards their apex which extends beyond the base of the opposing triangle. The projecting point at the rear of the structure shields an outdoor terrace - internally the building is naturally lit by the roof light which rises and falls between the two sections of the building peaking in the centre. With an open plan reception area, the building includes study & seminar spaces, meeting rooms, along with a café, state-of-the-art library and a quiet study area. The building has been purposely developed with bright open spaces for students to work, socialise and study in between classes.

As a truly hybrid structure, the University Centre Farnborough incorporates the associated benefits of cross laminated timber, glulam, steel and timber cassettes to create a modern state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility.

The first floor, plant room and roof are made up of cross laminated timber (CLT), with CLT soffits left exposed within the building. The CLT panels take the diaphragm action in the structures floor and roof to the steel braced frame, whilst working structurally to take the gravitational forces. The roof and floor diaphragm provide stability to the structure in combination with the vertically braced bays.

A protective finish was applied to the exposed CLT to prevent surface spread of flame. Shaped glulam beams were used in the roof to achieve the necessary bearing area between the CLT roof and steel frame below.

A pre-fabricated insulated timber cassette system forms the internal leaf of all the external walls, together with some internal walls - improving the structures thermal performance - resulting in a comfortable environment for students.

Fermacell boards were applied to the inner face of the external wall cassettes which span from floor to floor and fix to the primary structure. It was designed so that the majority of the external wall cassettes are fixed on the outside and only in certain conditions, in-line with the structure. Where required, the timber cassettes also included preformed window and door openings to reduce onsite works.

The geometry of the building, with rising and falling slopes - combined with the wide range of materials used in the interface of the building - proved challenging for the project team, however the striking visual design of the finished structure was a fitting reward.

Internally the dividing diagonal route across the length of the building is naturally lit by the sloping roof lights and feature glazing, both of which were carefully scaled to prevent overheating. Externally, clad with cream coloured bricks, with decorative timber fins fitted along the east and west wings, the new centre creates a striking new entrance and marks the start of an exciting phase for the college as it continues to establish itself as a leading educational provider in the higher education market.


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Solid Wood Solutions is taking place on the 5th July at The Oculus - part of the University of Warwick and will shine a spotlight on pioneering projects through informative case studies presented by those who conceived and developed the buildings that are gaining global attention. This event presents a great opportunity to gain insight and network with those who are shaping the future of the engineered timber industry.

Speakers include:

  • Giancarlo Torpiano - Arup
  • Jonathan Roynon - Buro Happold
  • Kelly Harrison - Heyne Tillett Steel
  • John Spittle - Wiehag
  • Nic Clark - KLH UK
  • Gavin White - Ramboll
  • Kevin Flanagan - PLP Architecture
  • David Lomax - Waugh Thistleton
  • Neil Eaton - Berman Guedes Stretton
  • Daniel Kreissig - ZÜBLIN Timber
  • Robin Lancashire - TRADA
  • Darren Richards - Cogent Consulting
  • Penny Randell - Ecological Building Systems UK
  • Robert Hairstans - Edinburgh Napier University

For more information, visit the Solid Wood Solutions website >