Will ‘Paradise’ Benefit Birmingham City University’s Students?

On a recent visit to Birmingham it was impossible not to be excited by the development taking place in the city centre and to be drawn into the evolving new architectural landscape. In this piece we look at the demolition of Adrian Boult Hall, one of Birmingham University’s facilities, and ask if making way for ‘Paradise’ will affect the university’s students.

In the early 1970’s John Madin had a masterplan for Birmingham’s new inner ring road. Madin’s Paradise Circus development was to include a selection of buildings connected by high level walkways, including a new library, a School of Music, Drama Centre, Athletic Institute, offices, shops, public house, car park and bus interchange but due to budget cuts only the library, the School of Music and a public house were ever built.


The library gained architectural praise as an icon of British Brutalism with its stark use of concrete, bold geometry, inverted ziggurat sculptural form and monumental scale. Madin’s brutalist library served the Birmingham community for over 40 years but amongst much controversy was demolished in 2013.

Following an international architectural competition to design the new library, Mecanoo and multi-discipline engineers, Buro Happold were announced the winners and their now multi award winning building welcomes over 1.8 million visitors a year.


Adjacent to the Library of Birmingham is Adrian Boult Hall (ABH) positioned next to Madin’s School of Music, ABH has been Birmingham City University Conservatoire since 1985 and is currently in the process of being demolished, along with the School of Music and Paradise Forum, to make way for ‘Paradise.’


‘Paradise’ will be a £500 million multi-purpose business, residential and leisure quarter. Glenn Howells Architects were tasked by Birmingham City Council to reconnect the city’s public spaces with sensitivity to the Glade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings opposite the site. Phase 2, scheduled for 2018 to 2021, includes a 4 star hotel designed by Ian Springford.

Only time will tell if Glenn Howells Architects can deliver a design which incites such passion in residents as Madin’s brutalist symbol of social progressivism.

Architect: Glenn Howells Architects Development Manager: Argent Main Contractor: Carillion

Whilst the city centre awaits the arrival of ‘Paradise’ has Birmingham City University has lost an important facility in the demolition of Adrian Boult Hall? Developers bought Adrian Boult Hall from Birmingham City University for £29 Million and it is exciting to hear that this payment is being ploughed into a much larger funding pot to be spent on a £57 million purpose build building in Birmingham’s East Side Knowledge Quarter, designed by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects.


Image courtesy of Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects

Lamberto Coccioli, Associate Principle at Birmingham Conservatoire stated in ISM Music Journal that the additional funding from Birmingham City University is a testament to the universities unwavering commitment to the conservatoire.

Birmingham Conservatoire has been designed with acoustics at the core of all considerations and will comprise five performance venues, including a public concert hall with the capacity for over 450 seats and a full orchestra, plus a recital hall at 150 seats and smaller experimental music space, organ and jazz rooms. There are also plans for more than 70 music practice.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects have an established reputation for designing educational buildings, including Manchester Met University Business school and Chatham Building at Manchester School of Art, they were awarded a RIBA National Award 2016 for their Stunbrook Abbey project.

We look forward to visiting the completed Conservatoire and hope to discover students benefiting from the rigorous design process undertaken by Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects.

Architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects.  The development is being taken forward in partnership with Millennium Point and Birmingham City Council.  Completion due Summer 2017.  Services Engineer: Hoare Lea Main Contractor: Galliford Try

BCFA members are able to join us in Birmingham on Thursday September 15th at 6:30 PM for our BCFA Networking Birmingham evening, book your place here.


About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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