Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Lendlease seeks architects for £1.5bn Birmingham Smithfield market

  • Comment

Lendlease has launched an international contest to design a landmark mixed-use market building at the heart of its £1.5 billion Birmingham Smithfield regeneration

The competition – organised by Colander – invites ‘fantastic designers’ to put themselves forward for the 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 call for applications comes six months after Lendlease was named development partner for the 17ha former wholesale markets by Birmingham City Council (BCC).

Following an open call for expressions of interest, five shortlisted practices will be invited to attend a ‘mid-tender charrette’ and be interviewed by a judging panel which will include AL_A’s Amanda Levete as an adviser.

Lendlease’s managing director of European property Jonathan Emery said: ‘The markets at Smithfield are very special and we are seeking the very best team to help deliver a truly remarkable outcome. Wonderful and diverse markets exist in many of the great cities around the world. By opening this competition globally, we are inviting talent from around the world to share their experiences and influences.’

BCC director of inclusive growth Waheed Nazir said: ‘This competition is a key milestone as we move forward in the delivery of Birmingham Smithfield. This is about much more than simply creating a new market building – it will be about reimagining the retail markets, establishing a vibrant mix of uses and exciting new spaces as the centrepiece of the transformational redevelopment. The successful designer will be tasked with turning this vision into a reality.’

The 300,000m² Birmingham Smithfield project – part of the ambitious Big City Plan launched in 2010 – will deliver around 2,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs close to Birmingham’s Bullring and New Street Station.

A planning application for the enormous scheme is expected to be submitted later this year and work could start on the project as early as 2022. In January, AJ reported Lendlease was seeking to renew its design approach to the challenging site.

Several practices contributed towards the developer’s winning bid, including Hawkins\Brown, Haworth Tompkins, Leonard Design, Alexandra Steed Urban, dRMM, DSDHA, Field Operations, and Prior + Partners.

The latest project aims to deliver an ‘extraordinary and joyful’ gateway to the development which will be one of the first schemes delivered under the masterplan. The market, planned to complete in 2025, will feature fresh produce, clothing, street food, cafés and restaurants.

Applications should include a 750-word ‘think-piece’ featuring a design approach and examples of previous work; five sides of A4 illustrating team structure and leadership; and contact details. Round-one submissions will be judged on creative, collaborative thinking, communication skills and team composition.

The developer intends to appoint the winning team to deliver its design. The deadline for applications is midday, 8 July. 

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: birminghamsmithfield@colander.co.uk 



Jonathan Emery, managing director, property, Europe, Lend Lease

Jonathan Emery

Jonathan Emery

Source: Image by Ben Blossom

Jonathan Emery

Why are your holding an international contest for a new market building at Smithfield Birmingham?

Market buildings are quite unusual beasts. The memorable ones tend to be extremely exciting and disparate in the ways they engage the senses and inspire, and they always feel hyper local. Combining our global footprint, Birmingham’s diversity and the international experience of different markets, a competition seemed like a good opportunity to see what the world has to offer.

I have spoken over last year about Lend Lease’s growing aspiration to work with more diverse creative talent. It’s about recognising our network only penetrates so far. Competitions come at a price in terms of time and are not done lightly, but we think it’s worth an investment of everyone’s time on this occasion.

I am acutely aware of the challenges of many types of procurement. An open competition provides an opportunity for people who don’t come into contact with Lend Lease or meet our procurement criteria which is a good thing. We have not gone into it without considerable thought about how it needs to be run and we have partnered with an organisation to ensure we manager the process as effective and efficiently as possible.

What is your vision for the mixed-use market scheme?

We have discussions internally about how specific we need to be about the programme. I’m interested in people’s views about what they think a modern market is and I’m erring on the side of not being prescriptive. My team favour some programmatic view.

Primarily the building needs to serve existing and new customers to the market. Markets contain a number of different uses, there is a job to do of retailing and serving an existing very loyal customer base. Bolted onto that is the architecture and use, blending form and function to create an invigorating experience.

I was recently in a market in Bhutan. It was architecturally nothing but it was the most invigorating uplifting experience. There were people eating, buying, fixing cars – the whole world was there. So I’m open minded.

I imagine there would be an opportunity to experience the market and to dine, to sit and enjoy the atmosphere, and I anticipate there would be some workspace in there as well providing a crossover between living and working. I am interested to see how the architecture and physical space provide private moments for rest, moments for enjoying the noise and bustle.

That’s why we have gone out to the world. We want to supercharge the market, make it an amazing place for the UK’s second city, for existing customers and international visitors. If ever there was a building that everyone wants to go to when they go to Birmingham, this is it.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

I’m hoping to see some names I’ve never heard of before, and some names that I have – but the names don’t really interest me. Many fantastic buildings around the world have been designed by competition-winning architects who would not have been on a list (and I’m not trying to dissuade named architects) and I would hope there are many applications from practices from different parts of world we have haven heard of.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.