The winner of a competition to transform one of Birmingham’s largest public spaces has been named as Edinburgh-based Graeme Massie Architects.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Landscape Institute on behalf of Birmingham City Council, attracted nearly 200 entries from architects and designers around the world, all vying to make their mark on the city by redesigning Centenary Square.
Graeme Massie Architects’ winning design was selected from a shortlist of just five by a panel of judges, which included Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader Cllr Ian Ward.
Judges were particularly impressed with the winning scheme, known as the Hall of Columns, for a wide range of reasons, including:
- The lighting columns, which will provide a unique and iconic image for Birmingham;
- The fact the scheme is multi-dimensional, incorporating trees, seating and water with a ceiling of lights which can be appreciated not just from the square but from the terrace of the library and the higher floors of surrounding buildings too;
- The ‘timeless simplicity’ of the design which also offers the flexibility for the location to be used for a wide range of events in the long-term;
- The design fits in well with the existing and planned developments in the area;
- The design complements the history of the square as well as providing an iconic design for the future.
Director Graeme Massie was named Architect of the Year 2010 at the Scottish Design Awards and won the Royal Scottish Academy Gold Medal for Architecture in both 2005 and 2007. He is also a part-time tutor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow. Prior to establishing his own practice, Graeme was an associate with LDN Architects in Edinburgh, where he was responsible for a number of prestigious projects, including the 2002 RIBA Award-winning Birmingham Hippodrome, the redevelopment of Parliament House and the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and the courtyard development at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This competition has attracted entries from national and international designers, with the quality of entries making the judges’ job extremely difficult, but I am delighted that we are now at the point where we can reveal the winner.
“We believe the winning scheme offers something different for Birmingham and will reshape Centenary Square into an important public space where people can stop, relax and socialise, rather than simply passing through, as well as coming together to enjoy a diverse calendar of events.”
Graeme Massie said: “We are delighted to have won the competition for Centenary Square in Birmingham. The project presents a fantastic opportunity to build on the success of the city in developing high quality public buildings and spaces, such as the Library of Birmingham and Eastside City Park. Through working closely with Birmingham City Council, key stakeholders and the wider community we hope to deliver a public space which everyone in the city can be proud of.”
Pat Hanlon, board director for Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said: “It is exciting to see the winning design of such a popular competition which drew international interest, underlining Birmingham’s position as a city of importance on the world stage.
“This transformational project forms an important part of the GBSLEP’s £275m Enterprise Zone investment plan, which will be funded by the retained business rates in the EZ and Birmingham City Council borrowing against the future uplift. This plan has been designed to support development, such as Paradise and the Midland Metro extension to Centenary Square, and public realm improvements in order to drive economic growth.
“We believe Graeme Massie Architects’ winning design will provide an inspirational and aspirational place to attract inward investment and tourism in line with the LEPs plans.”
Sasha Bhavan, RIBA adviser for the competition, said: “A difficult decision – the panel debated long and hard to choose a winner, a tribute to all five entries. The winning practice and scheme were chosen for their bold, brave and unique approach, backed by rigorous thought and a practical, pragmatic approach.
“Graeme Massie Architects stood out and apart, for demonstrating an ability to inventively and successfully respond to the brief and client feedback, and for describing an iconic yet realisable proposal in the spirit of Birmingham’s tradition of groundbreaking architectural commissions.”
High resolution images of the winning design can be downloaded from the Birmingham Newsroom Flick feed.