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Birmingham Charrette

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The challenge: For this intensive design day, we asked six practices to form teams to explore possibilities offered by the detailed design of Paradise Circus

We would like to thank Argent, Birmingham City Council and English Heritage for supporting the charrette, the design jury and, most importantly, the talented teams who took part.

Paradise Circus is a key part of Birmingham’s Big City Plan, which sets out our vision for the city centre over the next 20 years. It is focused on how the city can grow by creating more jobs, delivering new homes, transforming the physical environment and creating better connectivity. Paradise Circus will deliver new jobs, a transformed environment and vastly improved connectivity.

The Westside area of Birmingham, within which Paradise Circus sits, is a key growth area. The new Library of Birmingham, which celebrates Birmingham’s renewed municipal pride, and New Street Gateway, the soon-to-be-completed transformation of the key entrance to the city, represent over £800 million of investment in the city centre.

Birmingham is an innovative city. We have used groundbreaking financing mechanisms such as tax incremental finance to unlock development and support the wider enterprise zone. Despite lots of talk, no other city in the UK has done this.

Now to today’s challenge. Paradise Circus, a joint venture between the council and the British Telecom Pension Scheme managed by Hermes, with Argent as development partner, is very precious to Birmingham. It sits adjacent to the civic heart of the city represented by the Council House, the Museum and Art Gallery, and the Town Hall, all major listed buildings. My challenge to you is how you fuse the modern with the old and make this scheme uniquely Birmingham, but at the same time of international standing.

Sir Albert Bore, leader, Birmingham City Council

Argent: learning from charrettes

This was the fourth charrette that Argent has run with the AJ and the first outside London. From the previous three, which were all about different aspects of King’s Cross, not only did we get the opportunity to work with emerging architectural talent to whom we wouldn’t normally be exposed, but we also gleaned some valuable insights, which we have applied subsequently. The Paradise Circus charrette was no exception. We came away re-energised and refreshed, and extremely impressed by the depth and validity of the thought put in by the participants.

David Partridge, managing partner, Argent

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