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Birmingham Charrette: Matheson Whiteley

Matheson and Whiteley chose to strengthen connections with Birmingham’s jewellery quarter

Jason Whiteley and Giles Reid take a focused approach and concentrate on three precise aspects of the masterplan: reorienting the Town Hall’s entrance with a new ‘object stair’ facing Chamberlain Square; emphasising the horizontal datum created by the ‘Madin Plinth’ on which the old library sits; and strengthening connections to the jewellery quarter.

Donald Matheson and Jason Whiteley with Giles Reid of Giles Reid Architects

Matheson Whiteley main work has been in private housing and exhibition design. Donald Matheson worked at Tony Fretton Architects, where he was project architect on the Fuglsang Art Museum, Denmark, then joined Herzog & de Meuron as project architect for the Tate Modern extension. After a stint designing private housing in New Zealand, Jason Whiteley  collaborated for several years with Herzog & de Meuron. He has been visiting critic at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge.

Giles Reid has 15 years’ experience working in England, France and New Zealand. He was London representative for Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s Shard, and project architect at Borgos Dance for the Louise T Blouin Foundation, Notting Hill. He was also graduate architect at Architectus working on the Mathematics and Computer Sciences Building, Christchurch.

Matheson Whiteley team approach

There is a datum that exists across the whole development created by what we call the Madin Plinth: the plinth, podium and terrace. It actually stretches well beyond the site, and we hope Argent doesn’t do away with that. It’s something you can’t altogether erase. On Chamberlain Square, we wanted to add a new ‘object stair’ which would become the new front door to the Town Hall. This would have a new datum, which may mimic the rustication on the nearby buildings. On the western terrace, where people currently circulate under the Madin Plinth, we felt that you could introduce colonnades, bring the level of the walkway back up and introduce an at-grade road crossing. At the edge facing the jewellery quarter, again we have introduced colonnades, reshaped the edges and suggest some hanging foliage or addition of trees.

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