Upper Gough Street Birmingham, UK
Upper Gough Street introduces two new BREEAM outstanding office buildings in Birmingham City Centre totalling 180,000sq.ft. It is the first phase of more comprehensive redevelopment plan of this key site opposite The Peace Garden.
This key site location is adjacent to St. Thomas’ Peace Garden, an important monument to peace and a memorial to those killed in armed conflict. The garden houses the remains of St Thomas’ Church which was itself half demolished in the Birmingham Blitz in 1940 and never restored.
From the outset, we wanted to celebrate the connection to the Peace Garden and introduce new vistas and pedestrian connectivity that frames the remains of the church. A key move to achieve this was to propose extending Chapman’s Passage from the east, creating a new route through the middle of the scheme which forms a new area of city public realm. This enabled views of the remains of St Thomas’ Church to be framed and act as a backdrop to these new spaces, whilst opening up the site as a key pedestrian route.
The site is part of a large urban plot which slopes significantly towards Holloway Head to the south. The proposed design incorporates 2 new buildings with a pedestrian lane through the middle, containing office use at upper level with class E use at ground. The form of the northern building is influenced by the former façade of St Thomas Church, with distinctive bullnose gable ends that help pedestrian movement flow around the building and create a dynamic space.
The new building to the south of the lane provides a new public face to the rear of the existing buildings on Holloway Head, with an opportunity to potentially link the buildings at upper levels to create larger footprints.
Key views of the peace garden have been created and extended at the western end of the development. The form of the church and material palette have been chosen to echo the materials on the office building, with a two storey order reflecting the colonnade and scale of the architecture.
The form of the building is a unique response to the topography of the site, creating connectivity from east to west, whilst incorporating opportunities to link levels from north to south. The form of the existing church was a major inspiration in the design development, that resulted in the distinctive round ends to the building.
The main building contains two separate roof terraces for occupiers to maximise views across the Peace Gardens and back towards the city, whilst the public realm between the buildings offers potential for restaurants and cafes to open directly into the new Lane and creating a vibrant destination. Landscaping creates seating, dwell spaces and new planting for a pleasant environment, whilst new combined external lighting proposals help to articulate views to and from the peace garden at all times
The high quality office accommodation has been designed to allow for tenant flexibility with each floor plate of the main building easily sub divided into 4 separate tenancies from a central core. Main Reception is located on Upper Gough Street, however the east west axis allows for an opportunity for larger tenants to create independent reception spaces off the new Lane. This provides flexibility for the building to operate either as a large number of multiple occupiers, a single occupier, or a combination of both.
The smaller building is designed to link in with the existing building that sits behind it and also extends down to HollowayHead. It creates a new frontage to the Lane that allows it to operate either independently as an office building, additional support space for the main office, or as part of a larger redevelopment of the retained building behind. This maintained the flexibility to generate large footprints for occupiers in the future, whilst reusing and maintaining the existing concrete building in the most sustainable manner.
The design aims to create a new unique office building in the centre of Birmingham. Incorporating a new pedestrian route with active ground floor uses to The Peace Garden will help to invigorate this location as a truly mixed use and vibrant part of the city.
Quality social and working spaces that allow collaborative working will be essential in attracting business back into the city once occupation begins to return to pre pandemic levels.
Whilst being located outside of the traditional office quarter, this scheme aims to use sustainable aspirations as a key USP to attract future office occupiers, with a target to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding office building that would be a first for the city.