Cat A Refurbishment
Following a competitive interview Associated Architects was appointed to design a comprehensive Cat A refurbishment and part-elevational reconfiguration of Civic House in Birmingham.
The building is a precast concrete clad twelve storey “L” shaped office block, constructed in 1981 and has a net lettable office floor area of just less than 80,000 sq.ft. It is located directly opposite and adjacent to Birmingham’s flag ship £500m redevelopment of Paradise Circus which aims to open up pedestrian routes within and across this part of the city. All of which have long been burdened by the concrete collar created by the implementation of the 1960’s ring road. This will therefore significantly improve both visual and physical connectivity between the City Centre and Great Charles Street and to the Jewellery Quarter beyond.
It is clear from the Paradise design proposals, including the Chamberlain Square views presented by the Paradise team, that Crossway (formerly Civic House) will become more prominent. It will certainly become the focus and gateway building for the Great Charles Street estate – particularly when approached from the new pedestrian route which will be implemented across Great Charles Street from Paradise Circus, via Chamberlain Square and Congreve Passage.
At an early stage, the importance of the prominence of the flanking wall of the main service core wall facing the Paradise Circus site was identified. It was seen that this would be a focal point for the re-development of Civic House and a marker for the corner of the Great Charles Street Estate. Numerous cladding options have been reviewed and it has been decided that a ribbed terracotta cladding will be implemented, with the existing core corner squared off by the new cladding. This vertical ribbed cladding complements the form of the existing core concrete cladding but is obviously new – glazed and shining, with a random staggered pattern and provides the building with a much needed face-lift.
The main building entrance has been relocated on the return elevation perpendicular to Great Charles Street – with access directly off the corner quadrant external space below a new glazed entrance canopy. This increased entrance approach area provides a greater pausing and orientation space upon entering and leaving the building and gives increased legibility when approached from Chamberlain Square across the new pedestrian crossing. It also directly relates more closely to the new architectural modelling proposed on the façade above and provides the space with a more defined internal entrance sequence for all users, with the new double height entrance space directly ahead upon entering the building.