Telford College, Edinburgh

Key facts

  • A large 350 home development including apartments, terraced housing and detached villas
  • 140 homes erected within the first 12 months
  • Balcony steelwork integrated into timber frame systems
  • A large panel fast-track timber frame solution designed specifically for project
  • Number of building and warrant challenges identified and resolved prior to commencement

Type and size of project

Telford Campus is a large 350 home project developed by Miller Homes East Scotland. It comprises a mixture of apartments, terraced townhouses and detached villas on the site formerly belonging to Edinburgh’s Telford College.

Designed by Michael Laird Architects, the development seeks to encourage interaction between residents by being planned around courtyards and other communal green spaces.

Description of project

The size and speed of build required on the project were significant. Each block of 60 apartments is designed to be accessible through the under-croft parking for residents, which meant that the full structural envelope for the whole block had to be completed, and the scaffolding dropped, before the first residents could move into their new homes.  

To achieve this, Stewart Milne Timber Systems used a large panel fast-track timber frame solution. This ensured that the full build was completed, with the external cladding installed, 12 months quicker than a comparative masonry build.  In total, Stewart Milne Timber Systems erected 140 homes within a single 12 month period. 

Stewart Milne Timber Systems worked with Miller Homes East Scotland and the development’s designers from the initial outline planning stage. This allowed the project team to fully utilise the benefits of timber frame, while also streamlining the design and integration of various structures, services, and external cladding materials.  

A particular challenge involved integrating balcony steelwork into the timber systems, as was working with a mixture of flat and gull-wing roofs. By being involved so early on, Stewart Milne Timber Systems was able to jointly develop solutions for both these aspects of the project, and mitigate any potential delays. The primary supports for the balcony were included within the timber frame package designed, supplied and erected by Stewart Milne Timber Systems with a pre-fabricated steel balcony structure then attached after the external cladding was completed. This kept the balcony structure off the critical path.

The flat roofs were formed with pre-fabricated panels to help reduce the build programme.  The gull-wing roofs were designed with pre-fabricated roof trusses that kept the cost of forming the structure to be kept as low as possible, while, along with minor changes to the cladding systems, maintaining the original architectural proposals.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems identified and resolved all of these challenges up to 12 months prior to starting on site, omitting re-works and delays to the build programme and building warrant approval process.

The last apartment block was completed in 2014, with all the other blocks on the site already completed and fully occupied.  This meant that extraordinary safety measures needed to be taken for the surrounding buildings during construction.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems worked closely with Miller Homes East Scotland to develop a proactive solution, including additional non-combustible compartment walls pre-fitted within the already fire-proofed timber systems, and minor changes to the build programme. This enabled the houses to be built in a safe and controlled manner with minimal impact on cost and schedule, with no risk, and very little impact on the occupants of the neighbouring blocks.

Speed of build

The use of timber frame increased the speed of build and enabled the buildings to be wind and watertight quickly. With the added benefit of early deployment of follow on trades, multiple tradesmen could work through the critical path simultaneously, further supporting the speed of build. This also meant the project was not dependent on good weather conditions, and therefore less vulnerable to delays. Offsite construction can also improve the cash cycle by enabling a quicker turnaround on initial capital outlay.


Stewart Milne Timber Systems has a long established supply chain, so availability of materials was never a concern for Miller Homes East Scotland.

With all structural timber sourced direct from mill owners with long-standing relationships, there were no additional costs from distributors, nor any material capacity to cause delays. Likewise, with capacity to manufacture 10,000 units per annum and the ability to flex manpower to accommodate larger projects and shorter lead times, Stewart Milne Timber Systems easily met the requirements of the project. There was no restriction in the height, shape or configuration of panels, and each was individually designed and made to suit the building layout. Call off times were shorter too, with the ability to call off within three weeks once designs were completed, thus supporting the speed of build to meet the project’s timescales.


Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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