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Birmingham Charrette: FFLO

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This group focused on creating a new centrepiece garden

This bold proposal ‘threw a hand grenade’ into what the masterplan proposed; FFLO advocated creating a new centrepiece garden and large new square, amplifying the drama of the site’s level changes, and adding colonnades together with narrow streets, radically changing the massing of the masterplan.

James Fox of  FFLO, working with Todd Longstaffe-Gowan of Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design and Gianni Botsford of Gianni Botsford Architects

James Fox is a landscape designer whose practice is called FFLO. Fox takes on many projects in the UK and abroad, many with a conservation angle. He says: ‘My work reflects my interest in the dramatic and sculptural potential of landscape, and is imbued with whimsical, historical eclecticism.’ Fox freelances at Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design, which last year completed the redesign of Kensington Gardens, and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan is a collaborator here. Gianni Botsford completed his education at the Architectural Association with John Frazer before setting up Gianni Botsford Architects in 1996. He has taught at the AA and London Metropolitan University.

FFLO team approach

Birmingham has some fantastic civic buildings which we’d like to open up, and also has some great level changes which can be used in a playful way. We’re playing on the idea that Birmingham is built up on many levels. We quite like these levels, and also want to create some bigger open spaces and colonnades. At the moment the proposal feels too much like a bulwark to us. People are restricted by being at ground level – we want to elevate them and help create some fantastic views of a large square. This proposal generated much debate; Glenn Howells referred to the drama of sudden level changes which cities like Rome have and the Alhambra in Spain, while David Partridge worried that by consolidating the building space into large blocks, some of the human interest is lost.


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