Designed in 2008 by Glenn Howells, the new office building was the last piece of a jigsaw in a long and large redevelopment saga; Brindleyplace.
A seventeen hectar site near Birmingham’s city centre, it was transformed from a derelict, ex-industrial area into a vast new urban quarter.
Brindleyplace in the 19th century formed part of Birmingham’s character and status as an industrial powerhouse. But like elsewhere in the UK, the manufacturing industry declined in the 20th century, and by the 1980s the buildings on site were no longer in use. A major effort was needed to breathe new life into the assemblage of former factories.
The new building was constructed on a difficult site; roughly triangular-shaped, and wedged behind an architecturally rather underwhelming hotel building, it had to respond to a brief which asked for a landmark structure.
While many of the buildings on the redevelopment site around it are faced in brick and are of a consistent, and lower height, the new design is a different sort of animal. It is slender and tall, faced in glass in anodised frames, and is composed from two distinct shapes which are held together by a glazed core.
The Reynaers systems used on the façades – a customised solution based on the curtain wall systems CW 50 and CW 60, and CS 68 doors in bronze anodized aluminium – form part of a bespoke curtain wall design which was tested at Reynaers’ facilities in Duffel, Belgium.
The glazing accentuates the building’s verticality which was an important design consideration for Glenn Howells Architects, who wanted to create an elegant landmark.
Crucially, the system can be reglazed from the inside, a feature that makes it ‘future-proof’. To the east, north and west the building’s elevations have been fitted with aluminium fins which add depth to the surface, but also play an important environmental role in providing shading and preventing solar gain.
While the building is a truly modern statement, the architects took incredible care to respond to the context by means of detailing. The anodised frames and fins to the glazing system are not simply powder coated but vary in colour; this gives them a warm and natural appearance, as project architect Michael Cruise proudly points out, and to some extent reflects the warmth of the brickwork of Brindleyplace’s Victorian buildings.
Working with Reynaers on this was part of the building’s success and has made it a worthy contribution to and a landmark within Brindleyplace.
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