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Birmingham Charrette: BPN Architects

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BPN put a new green space for Birmingham at the heart of its scheme

Analysis of the site’s public squares and learning from their Victorian forebears’ wily ways led BPN to put a new green space for Birmingham at the heart of its scheme, and to propose the addition of a series of internal courtyards to blocks within the masterplan.

Gavin Orton of BPN Architects with David Patten and Larry Priest

BPN Architects was founded in Birmingham by Mark Bryant, Larry Priest and Richard Newman in 1996. They brought together a team who enjoy working on projects that define towns and cities, adding to the vitality and diversity of a place. The practice says: ‘We have a collaborative approach to designing buildings and spaces, working alongside clients, end-users, artists, local authorities and other consultants to create better places. This approach has given us a reputation for being cost-effective and sustainable, while responding to function and context. We have a broad portfolio of work, ranging from single houses to multi-million pound commercial schemes.’ David Patten is an artist and collaborator of long standing with BPN.

BPN Architects team approach

The space between what is lost and what is retained is really useful for us, so we’ve tried to layer our proposal with history. I’ve lived with the war memorial all my life, and until yesterday never looked at it properly. The approach to the water fountain was typical Birmingham; they recycled the fountain water and sold it back to the market. So the question is: how do we become as wily as they were in the 19th century? We did an analysis of the public squares in Birmingham and found that they shared common proportions. We were concerned that the blocks were too high and thought that they could become lower, with slightly larger footprints than the existing massing proposals. Inside they could have internal courtyards, and then we could also create a green space for all of Birmingham.

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