TS&JT Architecture & Design

Birmingham Charrette

Design charrette organised by the Architect's Journal and Argent

One thing I didn’t expect to see today was a Kentian grotto, but it’s a pleasure to see one - absolutely fantastic in every sense of the word!

Nick Molyneux, English Heritage

with Iain Hales

We were invited by the Architect’s Journal to take part in a day of intensive design, forming a team with artist Iain Hales to explore possibilities offered by developer Argent’s Paradise Circus project, part of Birmingham’s Big City Plan.

We were struck by the drama and quality of Victorian Birmingham and the vision and bravery of the architects of the 1960s. With the quality and power of the existing buildings, for the new to be anything less - or too deferential - would be a disservice to both. What we have done is look to the classical orders to introduce weight, relief and rhythm, working as guiding proportions. Secondly, we introduced colonnades, which help with porosity while still being generous at ground level. Colonnades could be to Birmingham what they are to Turin. The paving could be much improved; big slabs or precast concrete blocks would be better than the existing tiles. Difficult edges of the masterplan could be features in the wider cityscape; a grotto and an arched bridge with a heavily rusticated base, similar to a William Kent design at Stowe or Rousham.

  • Photography © Richard Nicholson.

  • The classical orders.

  • Colonnade plan.

  • View from Chamberlain Square.

  • Pedestrian underpass transformed into a grotto.

  • View from colonnade towards Town Hall.

  • Palladian bridge over A38.