MJP unwraps stainless steel-clad utility bridge in Birmingham
[First look + plans + project data] MJP Architects has completed a 60-metre steam bridge for the University of Birmingham
The laser-cut stainless steel structure links the university’s combined heat and power station with a medical school building on the other side of a canal and railway track.
Liz Pride, MJP’s director of education and development plan architect for Birmingham university, said: ‘[The bridge is] in a very prominent location at the main West Gate entrance to the University’s campus and right opposite the University Station.
‘It’s also quite a feature seen from the canal below. The elegant design of the cladding makes an inherently utilitarian feature interesting and attractive: it positively highlights the University’s real commitment to CHP and carbon reduction.’
MJP designed the steam pipe bridge as an ‘elegant, sinuous sculptural form’ which ‘flows’ across the canal and railway lines.
Aeronautical, transport and engineering imagery was used in the design to reflect Birmingham and the West Midlands’ importance as an industrial centre.
MJP director Reza Schuster said: ‘It’s not just a pipe, it has the flattened ends and curved profile of the trains that run underneath it and the front of the bridge has the shape of an intake of an airliner turbofan nacelle. I like to think that the sinuous curves in the metallic surface describe the flow of steam from one side of the bridge to the other.’
A 2K Grade 316 satin finished stainless steel was chosen to reduce maintenance.
University of Birmingham M&E manager David Drew said: ‘The success of the bridge is that it reduces our carbon footprint by in excess of 1,500 tonnes of carbon per year and gives us a vastly improved security of supply’
Kevin George of CPW Building Services added: ‘It’s an impressive structure and the reaction that people have had has been amazing. People arriving at the University get off the train and they stop, look over and say “wow what’s that?” – To get people to go “wow” for a services project is a really great thing.’
Architect: MJP Architects
Project Manager: Couch Perry Wilkes
Contract Administrator: Robinson Low Francis
Structural Engineer: Couch Consulting Engineers
Services Engineer: Couch Perry Wilkes
Quantity Surveyor: Robinson Low Francis
CDM Coordinator: Robinson Low Francis
Main Contractor: Volker FitzPatrick
Cladding Subcontractor: Sorba Projects
M&E Subcontractor: D&I Building Services