An innovative competition offering architects and designers the chance to redesign one of Birminghamâ€™s largest public spaces has attracted nearly 200 entries from around the world, with the shortlist due to be unveiled in January 2015.
The competition, launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Landscape Institute on behalf of Birmingham City Council, aims to regenerate Centenary Square into a cultural hub and a desirable space in which residents and visitors can relax and socialise.
Stage one of the competition has attracted 185 entries, 25 per cent of which have come from 30 other countries, including the USA, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Canada, Colombia and Mexico.
Although entries were dealt with anonymously during this stage of the judging process, entrants range from students through to large international design practices.
Judges have now selected five designs, which are currently in the process of being verified before the final shortlist is announced in January. The five shortlisted candidates will each be given a Â£5,000 honorarium to develop their initial concepts into detail proposals which will then go on public display in the Library of Birmingham in May 2015. Final judging will take place in June.
Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: â€œCentenary Square is one of Birminghamâ€™s most important public spaces and with the successful completion last year of the Library of Birmingham and the planned improvements to transport links, we want to transform it into a place where residents and visitors alike will stop to relax and socialise, rather than simply passing through.
â€œThis is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help shape one of our key city centre spaces and I am delighted that we have had such a great response from all over the world, including as far away as Australia.
â€œI now look forward to seeing the five shortlisted schemes developed further to give Birmingham a fantastic public space truly fitting of a world class city.â€
Chris Webster, board director for Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), responsible for optimising assets and Enterprise Zone champion, said:Â â€œIt is great to learn that this competition is attracting so much interest from leading architects and designers from across the globe, underlining Birminghamâ€™s position as city of interest on the world stage.
â€œFunding for this important and exciting project is being provided via the GBSLEPâ€™s Â£275 million Enterprise Zone investment plan.Â Â This has been designed to support development and public realm improvements within Birmingham city centre and the wider LEP region in order to drive economic growth.
â€œGBSLEP looks forward to the announcement of the shortlist in early 2015 and believes the project will provide a fantastic opportunity for the ultimate winner.Â Â Our ambitions for Centenary Square are to create an attractive environment in line with the LEPâ€™s goals to improve the quality of life for the people who live and work here and provide an inspirational and aspirational place to attract inward investment and tourism.â€
Existing plans for the square include an extension of the Midland Metro and improvements to road layouts, with the aim of making it accessible to all. This forms part of the Enterprise Zone Investment Plan, supporting growth and investment in the city centre. It also forms part of the Big City Plan, which is Birminghamâ€™s 20-year vision for the cityâ€™s development and regeneration.
Named in 1989 to mark the centenary of Birmingham achieving city status in 1889, Centenary Square is home to a number of key buildings, including the Library of Birmingham, the REP Theatre, the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall, as well as a variety of statues and sculptures.