Eric Parry Architects completes first building on Argent’s Paradise Birmingham Masterplan
One Chamberlain Square provides 172,000 sq ft of office space in a building that sets a new standard of design in Birmingham and was snapped up in a pre-let by PwC in 2017.
Eric Parry Architects has celebrated the completion of One Chamberlain Square, the first building to complete on Argent and Hermes’ Paradise Birmingham masterplan. The 172,000 sq ft project isEric Parry Architects’ first completed project in Birmingham city centre and has become the regional HQ of “big four” professional services firm PwC, as well as home tothe debut Birmingham branch of the popular Bombay café-inspiredDishoom restaurant.
Lee Higson, Director at Eric Parry Architects said:
“The aspiration for One Chamberlain Square was to create a statement that would set the Paradise development apart, delivering an office building with a level of quality and finish that is unprecedented in the Birmingham market, but completely appropriate to this hugely significant site in the city’s civic heart.
“This is a really hardworking building that delivers fantastic value. In particular, a huge amount of thinking has gone into the façade of the building, where we developed a kit of standardised components that allowed us to create the kind of expressive design that might normally only be achieved with a prime London budget.”
One Chamberlain Square sits in the civic heart of Birmingham,facing onto a square shared by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Council House and Town Hall. The elegant ceramic façade and sinuous footprint of the building will define and animate new public realm that links the key civic spaces of Victoria Square, Chamberlain Square, Centenary Square and the newly created Congreve Square.
Eric Parry Architects was commissioned by Argent in 2014 to design new build offices in Chamberlain Square as part of the Paradise Birmingham masterplan following an invited competition. Construction began in January 2017. All 172,000 sq ft of office space in the £42 million building was fully let to leading professional services firm PwC in 2017. PwC’s 2,200-strong Birmingham staffhas relocated to the building, which offers the potential to accommodate an additional 1,000 people as PwC grows across the Midlands.
One Chamberlain Square is the first building to complete on Argent and Hermes’ hugely significant Paradise Birmingham Masterplan and is conceived as an exemplar modern commercial building that will represent the burgeoning confidence of Birmingham as it continues to revitalise its commercial core. Sitting in an area of intense redevelopment, as well as historic and civic significance, which spans from Brindley Place, past New Street station to The Bullring, the building walks a line between Birmingham’s heritage and its future, setting a new standard for office architecture in the city.
The form of the building, with its broad bullnose corners and sinuous footprint, has been developed to respond to the surrounding civic space and pedestrianised public realm. The curvilinear form of the building evokes a sense of movement in the surrounding squares and streets. A curved form is particularly appropriate to a building that can be viewed from all directions, and this ‘building in the round’ avoids a defined front, back and sides.
Birmingham and the Black Country are theheartland of Britain’s craft industries and the region has a strong tradition of glazed ceramics. Eric Parry Architects’ façade at One Chamberlain Square draws inspiration from the famous flambé glazes developed at Ruskin Pottery in Smethwick in the early 20th Century. The terracotta panels of the facade have two coloured glazes applied and are fired twice to produce a distinctive speckle and mottling in a process developed in close partnership with NBK Architectural Terracotta that industrialises an otherwise costly and labour intensive hand-process.
One Chamberlain Square’s sinuous outline has been achieved through a painstaking design process that developed a standardised kit of curved modules that have been inventively combined to deliver an expressive form that could be achieved within the budget. The carefully-determined spacing of the façade’s vertical fins, terminated by a strongly expressed curved cornice and sill, creates the strong visual impression of curvature, allowing the bays to be infilled with standard flat components without disrupting the flowing lines of the building and providing a significant cost saving over bespoke curved components.
The Body of the building is expressed as a continuous weave of vertical flambé-glazed terracotta fins and horizontal brise soleil with a dichroic treatment that changes colour from blue to green based on the angle of light. These two elements form a weave that creates changing impressions of depth, colour and shadow throughout the day.
The podium level is characterised by a robust polished precast concrete which forms a ribbon of retail bays around the base of the building.