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Revealed: shortlist in Birmingham Centenary Square contest

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The RIBA’s competitions office has named the five firms vying for the job to regenerate Birmingham’s Centenary Square

Two local Birmingham-based studios – Broadway Malyan and Atkins – are joined on the list by Barton Willmore, Graeme Massie Architects, and Open Studio Architects.

The practices were chosen from 185 international entries.

The project will create a ‘desirable cultural hub and significant space’ in the city centre plaza which is home to Mecanoo’s Stirling Prize-shortlisted Library of Birmingham.

The shortlist

  • Atkins, Birmingham
  • Barton Willmore, Reading
  • Broadway Malyan, Birmingham
  • Graeme Massie Architects, Edinburgh
  • Open Studio Architects with United Visual Artists, London

The area on Broad Street was renamed Centenary Square in 1989 to commemorate the granting of Birmingham’s city status in 1889. Landmarks include the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Grade II-listed Alpha Tower and Hall of Memory war memorial.

The teams will now receive a £5,000 honorarium to work up their schemes before they are displayed as part of a public exhibition in May.

The winner is set to be announced in June 2015.

Judge and RIBA client advisor Sasha Bhavan of Knox Bhavan Architects said: ‘We were impressed with the number and caliber of entries. From 185 entries covering 30 countries, anonymous judging and a broad spectrum of submissions made it almost impossible to shortlist just 5; all of whom should be absolutely delighted.

‘It was the impressive analysis and empathy with the site and city, which probably resulted in an all UK shortlist, 2 of which are Birmingham practices.’

Fellow judge and deputy leader of Birmingham City Council Ian Ward, added: ‘This competition demonstrates that Birmingham is not afraid to embrace innovative and unusual ideas and I now look forward to the next stage of the competition when we will choose a winning design truly fitting of a world class city.’

Comment:

David Tittle, chief executive of MADE and chair of the national Design Network: 
‘It’s good to see some intriguing and professional designs for Centenary Square and we are pleased to see a mix of elements: some look as though they might be quite radical and some are public space design tropes. It is interesting - and perhaps a little disappointing - that despite such strong and varied interest in the anonymous competition the chosen shortlist are all well-established practices.

‘Wouldn’t it have been a fantastic opportunity for at least one young or newly established practice or even a student submission make the cut.  Maybe instead there is scope for the shortlisted firms working with a wide range of people in the city, including young people, to refine their proposals.

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