74 are architects, interior designers and placemakers, specialising in student living, workplace, hospitality and residential projects. The Manchester-based practice, named Commercial Interior Design Practice of the Year at the Northern Design Awards 2019, offers clients a design-led, commercial approach and a thoroughly integrated mix of disciplines.
The Manchester-based architects and interior designers 74 have created the new 355 sq m ground-floor social and study amenity space within The Toybox, a new-build, 15-storey student accommodation block by architects Corstorphine + Wright, located on Bishopsgate Street in Birmingham. The client and project developer is Moorfield Group, for whom 74 previously completed the multi-award-winning Hox Haus, where a former Victorian gym was expanded and repurposed as a social and study clubhouse for students of Royal Holloway College.
The Toybox is a new glazed, green brick and zinc-clad block in the Westside area of Birmingham, just south-west of the city centre, The interior is comprised of 290 new student apartments, with 74 commissioned to create the dynamic series of communal spaces that make up the ground floor area, including a reception, lounge, study area, gaming area, kitchenette, staff welfare space, toilets and fitness suite.
The design concept for space was inspired by the location’s history and especially its industrial past, including the metalworking and the gold- and silver-smithing workshops Birmingham is famous for. Hinges, buttons, belt buckles and hooks are all examples of goods that were once considered “toys” and could be produced in metal, leather or glass, amongst others. The term toy was used in the 18th century or earlier to describe the industry in the English Midlands and changed to its modern form (“toy” as in plaything) years later. The metalworking legacy still exists in the form of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
‘We drew on the concept of raw, industrial workshops and contrasted that with the decorative and ornate items produced that would have been produced there’, 74 Associate Bianca Yousef commented. ‘This manifested as exposed ceilings and wall treatments, plus tarnished metals and metal tubing, along with laser-cut and geometric patterns, dramatic feature lighting, button references and spindle detailing on the timber furniture.’
’74 demonstrated their usual design flair and attention to detail on this project, creating an engaging and inspiring scheme inspired by Birmingham’s history of manufacturing “toys”. They successfully combined relevant historic features with modernity to create what we think is now one of Birmingham’s leading PBSA schemes.’ Sadie Malim, Head of Special Projects and Legal, Moorfield Group