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CABE criticism can't stop Aedas’ Birmingham skyscraper


Aedas’ 56-storey Regal Tower has landed planning permission despite having come in for savage criticism from CABE

This week Birmingham city Council voted unanimously in favour of the contentious £125 million scheme - a 200 metre-high mixed-use structure on the corner of Broad Street and Sheepcote Street.

The decision seems to fly in the face of CABE’s advice. In December the commission’s design review panel criticised the ‘too tall’ project, questioning whether the elevations were ‘good enough’ for a potential ‘future symbol of the city’.

Mark Holbeche of developer Regal Property Group said: ‘Our planning advisors at DTZ and architects at Aedas have worked very closely with Birmingham City Council over the past three years to ensure all analysis undertaken is robust and relevant.’


Previous story (14.12.10)

CABE savages Aedas’ plans for tallest building in Birmingham

The government’s design watchdog has called for ‘a fundamental rethink’ of Aedas Architects proposed 200m-tall Regal Tower in Birmingham

CABE said it was ‘uncomfortable about the proposed height’ of the mixed-use hotel, apartment and retail skyscraper, which seemed ‘to be generated by value rather than urban design considerations’.

The commission also laid into the scheme’s sustainability, the ‘poor quality’ of the urban environment around the tower and the ‘pixelated’ elevations which it said followed current trends and were ‘not good enough’ for a potential ‘future symbol of the city’.

The report (click here for full details) also questions ‘whether a building of this height is even viable in structural or economic terms as proposed’.

Developer Regal Property Group, which submitted the scheme on the corner of Broad Street and Sheepcote Street for planning in October this year was unavailable for comment.

However Aedas’ director Stephen Miller said: ‘All professional feedback is of interest to Aedas and we take on board the opinions of CABE as we would other such bodies in the industry.

‘We are however committed to ongoing liaison with our client Regal Property Group and the Birmingham City Council with regard to the designs and their shared aspirations to create a world class icon in the heart of Birmingham city centre.’.

CABE’s comments:

Form and architecture

In the 21st century, we would expect a more innovative and robust approach to the form and architecture of a major tall building, driven by sustainability. In particular, we would expect a more sustainable and flexible approach to the building envelope than the floor-to-floor largely glazed curtain walling (with roof level plant) currently proposed, a structural concrete shell for example. The architecture of the most visible building in Birmingham should be exceptional and specific to its place, rather than simply following the current trend for ‘pixelated’ elevations. We are concerned that the proposed facade construction will not prove durable and will leave the city with another tower that needs to be re-clad in thirty years time.

We think the design team need to anticipate the future re-use of this large building to enhance the long term resource and energy efficiency of the building. We are concerned that the close relationship of the structure and servicing strategy and the current hotel use, including the apparently undersized columns and risers, will constrain future sustainability and adaptability.

Finally, we are not convinced by the relative proportions of the elements of the tower and the lack of articulation in its form. Specifically, we find the repetitive expression of storey heights unrelenting and think that a richly articulated form that more clearly expresses the change in use from hotel to apartment to penthouses would be more successful. Given the relative design effort that has been given to the top of the building, it is disappointing that the crown mainly contains plant.

Previous story (AJ 26.10.09)

New tallest building in Birmingham? Aedas reveals 200.5m tower

Aedas Architects is hoping to steal the crown of Birmingham’s tallest building – just hours after a new vertical theme park laid claim to the title

Earlier today the practice told the AJ it had submitted plans for its 200.5-metre tall Regal Tower on the corner of Broad Street and Sheepcote Street – an all-important 50cm taller than the proposed VTP200 tourist tower (click here for full story).

The £125 million, 56-storey mixed-use skyscraper for developer Regal Property Group will house a 289-room  hotel, shops, 256 serviced apartments, banqueting suite, and three storeys of penthouses set within the ‘Crown’ at the top of the building.

Roger Holbeche of Regal Property Group said: ‘The Big City Plan sets out a need for more tall buildings and we are proud to be responding to this with the Regal Tower application.

‘We are keen to ensure that the public have the opportunity to enjoy the building, which is why we have included the sky bar as well as the winter garden on the 53rd floor, which will be open to the public on certain days of the year.’

Subject to approval, work could start on site by the end of next year (2010). The scheme is expected to take three years to complete.

Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, added: ‘It’s tremendously encouraging to see that investors have kept their faith in the city despite current uncertainties. It’s a positive sign that a stream of development is continuing to take place in Birmingham, shaping the city ready for the future.’



Readers' comments (7)

  • Oh God, why Aedas.......anyone but Aedas!
    Poor Birmingham.

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  • Please explain your comment PW?

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  • Pothetic!! Are architects today only able to design such style?!

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  • Sure anon, I live in Leeds near another Aedas masterpeice and "tallest" Bridgewater Place, is that enough to be going on with? Never mind the quality feel the height, bring it up on any search engine and be afraid brummies.......be very afraid.

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  • Don’t worry every one I live in Birmingham and I can assure you it the place cannot be ruined. any way brummys love anything that’s shiny and new and if you don’t like it then again you win because the brummy way is to demolish what ever is out of fashion at the time and replace it with the new shiny in fashion architecture ( the cheap version obviously) . Anyway if it turns out to be terrible them you just make a film about the city and ask kojak to do the voice over and no will be the any the wiser.

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  • ps why are all birminghams other towers missing in the render? is adeas affraid the alpha tower whould show there scheame up?

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  • weigh 2 spel jaims,

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