Green light for landmark campus

Planners have given Birmingham City University the green light to build phase one of its exciting new City Centre Campus – and applauded the investment to create graduates to compete in a global economy. The campus plans have been approved by Birmingham City Council and marks another boost for the region’s regeneration strategy as the new facility will help create skilled graduates ready to contribute to the local economy and beyond.

“This type of investment is supported with alacrity,” said Councillor Peter Douglas-Osborn, Chairman of Birmingham City Council’s planning committee. “Clearly it will help put students in a place where they can compete in a global marketplace, supported with an excellent British education.” 

The state-of-the-art facility at Birmingham’s Eastside will be part of the University’s overall £180million investment plan to provide an exciting environment that features industry-standard facilities, pioneering learning applications and supports a dynamic exchange between vocationally-focused study and the workplace.

Learning experience

“We are delighted that the city has backed our plans at Eastside because they signal a real commitment by Birmingham City University to create the best learning experience possible for our students,” said Professor David Tidmarsh, Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University.

“That learning experience will create graduates with the confidence and skills needed by employers because we design courses to be relevant to the industries that support our regional and national economies. For example, this University is one the UK’s biggest providers of talent to the creative industries, an important driver of the West Midlands economy.

“This City Centre Campus has been designed to provide a landmark building – one that will stand out as a learning facility that offers a first class student experience which in turn produces graduates with high levels of employability.”      

Professor Tidmarsh said the campus announcement coincides with Birmingham City University’s continued vision to engage with local employers to ensure courses are providing the skills urgently needed to support business growth.   

The new 18,310sq m facility will be located on a plot adjacent to Millennium Point, providing a purpose-built home for the world-class provision already offered by the University’s Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD). The new centre of excellence will also feature a large Media Hub including TV, radio and photographic studios that will underpin the University’s media production courses.

Architectural heritage

The landmark building echoes the University’s own rich architectural heritage and at the same time looks to the future with the use of sustainable green technology to generate up to 20% of the building’s energy needs through renewable sources. 

The appointment of the main building contractor will be announced in July and work will start on the campus in autumn 2011 for occupation in September 2013. The five-storey building, adjacent to Cardigan Street, will reflect a number of styles both old and new.

Birmingham-based Associated Architects have designed the facility around the general principals of spacial efficiency, sustainability and functional suitability. It includes an open courtyard, a large atrium and an elevated bridge link into the Universities existing occupied areas of Millennium Point.

As the building will re-home much of BIAD’s provision the lower elevations will feature traditional brickwork elements, inspired by the listed Venetian Gothic of the University’s historic School of Art on Margaret Street in the city centre.

In acknowledgment of the area’s Victorian industrial heritage a blended mix of light and dark bricks will also be integrated in the building’s design to create a polychromatic texture to the building, which offers a range of tonal blends as visitors approach the campus.

The use of glazed elements will reflect the distinctive style of the adjacent glass-fronted Millennium Point. Looking to the future, the new building will incorporate a number of features to enhance the Universities environmental credentials, including a biomass boiler which burns wood chips from sustainable sources therefore significantly reducing the buildings reliance on fossil fuels and photovoltaic panels which are waterless solar panels that convert sunlight into a self generating energy source. It will also feature a ‘green and brown roof’  which will create a naturally biodiverse environment to provide a habitat for birds and insects.  

Students, staff and visitors to the new campus will benefit from nearby transport links, including the redeveloped New Street station and the proposed high speed rail link. The building, which will front the proposed scenic Eastside City Park, will also be used to exhibit public art displays.

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