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Exclusive: Birmingham Smithfield winner announced

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A team led by David Kohn Architects has been chosen by Lendlease to design a mixed-use market building at the heart of its £1.5 billion Birmingham Smithfield regeneration

The ‘highly energetic’ David Kohn Architects-led collaboration, which includes local arts organisation Eastside Projects and landscape designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, was chosen from an eclectic, global, five-strong shortlist for the landmark job.

Among the finalists were London’s 5th Studio, Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki Architects – which won the never-realised commission for the Helsinki Guggenheim in 2015 and, last month, the contest for the Powerhouse Parramatta in Sydney – and James Corner Field Operations of High Line fame.

The high-profile contest attracted 75 submissions and interest from international names such as BIG and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. 

The competition, organised by Colander, sought ‘fantastic designers’ for a new canopied trading area and gateway civic square, together with a market with an accessible green roofscape and a ‘workplace building’ rising from four to eight storeys.

The Smithfield market project, planned to complete in 2025, will be one of the first schemes delivered under Lendlease’s wider 300,000m² Birmingham Smithfield masterplan (plan below, highlighted). Birmingham City Council named Lendlease as development partner for the 17ha former wholesale markets in November 2018.

Aj em digimap roam (2) 01

Aj em digimap roam (2) 01

Part of the Big City Plan which was launched in 2010, this 25-year vision will eventually create around 2,000 homes and 3,000 jobs on the site close to Birmingham’s Bullring and the future HS2 stations. 

Competitors for the market were asked to submit sketches, images and diagrams which described the guiding principles they would want to explore in the design of a market for Birmingham as well as a single image or sketch that ‘captured the spirit and character’ of the proposed development.  

The jury, which included city council leader Ian Ward and architect Amanda Levete, praised the winning team’s ‘vision, collaboration skills and energy’, adding that its proposal could create ‘a fantastic centrepiece for this redeveloped area of the city and a memorable experience for both existing residents and new visitors to Birmingham’.

A future timetable for public consultation and a subsequent planning application are not yet known.

The judges

Amanda Levete of AL_A; Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council; Bek Seeley, interim managing director of development, Europe, Lendlease; Simon Delahunty-Forrest, acting assistant director of development at Birmingham City Council; Selina Mason, director of masterplanning, Lendlease; Gary Woodward, development planning manager – the city centre team at Birmingham City Council ;and Janet Kidner, operations director at Birmingham Smithfield, Lendlease. 

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