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Emerging practice unveils £70m 'Hanging Gardens' of Digbeth

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Emerging practice Architects of Invention has revealed plans for a £70 million housing scheme in Birmingham inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Backed by a Chinese private equity fund, the Garden Hill development in Digbeth has been designed with a network of roof-garden terraces rising up to two towers at opposite corners of the site.

The London-based practice, which also has outposts in Moscow, Tbilisi and Vilnius, has yet to have any of its designs built in the UK, although it was responsible for the refurbishment of Mayfair business hub 12 Hay Hill.

Principal Nikoloz Japaridze, who worked at OMA and KPF before setting up Architects of Invention, told the AJ: ‘We were approached by this private equity fund to produce something that would appeal to the Chinese eye, which is more used to iconic design. We had to come up with a more eye-catching scheme.

‘We don’t approach architecture in a safe mode. That is our condition; we do what we think is exciting and good.’

The practice is in pre-application discussions with Birmingham City Council planners about the 38,500m² proposals.

The 500-home scheme features two 25-storey towers stepping down to a public roof garden at the fourth storey. Gardens above that height will be private.

The ground floor will contain communal facilities for working and leisure activities.

The scheme is 60 per cent one-bedroom flats of between 40m² and 50m², and 40 per cent two-bedroom flats of between 63m² and 75m².

Japaridze said because the apartments were relatively small, co-working and leisure space would be included on the ground floor.

The scheme will be constructed entirely of cross laminated timber, apart from a concrete ground-floor car park.

Japaridze set up Architects of Invention in 2010 after leaving his role as senior architect at OMA. He was joined three years ago by Anton Khmelnitskiy, who was formerly a partner at Foster + Partners.

The firm has completed a range of projects abroad, with a number in Georgia, Japaridze’s former home.

AI Digbeth Page 14

Project data

Status Concept proposal
Location 175 High Street Bordesley, Digbeth, Birmingham
Client PGC Capital (China)
Architect Architects of Invention
Team Dominykas Daunys, Carlos Hurtado, Nikoloz Japaridze, Anton Khmelnitskiy, Vano Ksnelashvili, Davit Tsanava
Size 38,500m²
Budget £70 million
Storeys 25
Structure Combined CLT and concrete
Programme 40m² and 60m² residential units, co-working, co-living communal shared spaces, retail, car park
Consultants Alpha Omega FUTIQUE (developers), Engenuiti (structure), DSA engineers, HED (landscape), GAP (interiors) 

AI Digbeth Page 19

AI Digbeth Page 19



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Readers' comments (1)

  • Perhaps a bit less computer graphics and more integration of the landscape at street level would make it a bit less austere for the people who have to walk past it.

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