Two Birmingham architects have been shortlisted in a competition to transform Centenary Square – beating off competition from rivals in 30 countries.

Atkins and Broadway Malyan in the city were chosen from 185 entries from across the world to fight out for the right to redesign the prominent public space.

Their plans will compete with schemes from Reading firm Barton Willmore, Graeme Massie Architects in Edinburgh and Open Studio Architects with United Visual Artists in London.

However, the competition, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), came in for criticism for choosing “well established practices” rather than up-and-coming youngsters.

Sasha Bhavan, of Knox Bhavan Architects, RIBA adviser, said: “It was the impressive analysis and empathy with the site and city which probably resulted in an all UK shortlist, two of which are Birmingham practices. We are looking forward to being surprised and delighted with the developing next stage of the competition. This is a tremendous opportunity for the shortlisted five and Birmingham to show how innovative thoughtful design can transform a major public civic space.”

The five shortlisted teams will now develop their initial concepts and their schemes will then go on public display in Birmingham in May before the final judging by the panel in June 2015.

David Tittle, chief executive of MADE and Chair of the national Design Network said: “It’s good to see some intriguing and professional designs for Centenary Square and we are pleased to see a mix of elements: some look as thought they might be quite radical and some are public space design tropes. It is interesting - and perhaps a little disappointing - that despite such strong and varied interest in the anonymous competition the chosen shortlist are all well established practices. Wouldn’t it have been a fantastic opportunity for at least one young or newly established practice or even a student submission make the cut. Maybe instead there is scope for the shortlisted firms working with a wide range of people in the city (including young people) to refine their proposals.”

Coun Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council and a member of the judging panel, said: “As anticipated, this competition attracted some truly exceptional entries from across the world, making it all the more difficult to select just five for the shortlist.

“Although judging was done anonymously, I am delighted that two Birmingham practices have made the shortlist, seeing off fierce competition from a wide range of international entries.

“This competition demonstrates that Birmingham is not afraid to embrace innovative and unusual ideas and I now look forward to the next stage of the competition when we will choose a winning design truly fitting of a world class city.”