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Competition to find new uses for Birmingham's most 'at risk' buildings

The buildings featured are considered significant in the history of the city but all have an uncertain future, according to organisers Birmingham Civic Society

Birmingham Central Library

A competition has been launched to find new ways of using some of Birmingham’s most at-risk buildings.

The challenge, called Re-imagine, is aiming to ‘bring the buildings into public consciousness and stimulate debate’.

The buildings featured are considered significant in the history of the city but all have an uncertain future, according to organisers Birmingham Civic Society, which says the scheme is about ideas rather than written or design skills.

The Civic Society’s shortlist of buildings is made up of Curzon Street Station, the oldest railway terminus in the world, the 16th-century Golden Lion Inn, which was moved from Deritend to Cannon Hill Park a century ago, the 1903-built Methodist Central Hall on Corporation Street, John Madin’s controversial Central Library and Moseley Road Swimming Baths in Balsall Heath, currently on English Heritage’s national ‘Buildings at Risk’ register.

There is also a ‘Wildcard’ choice which allows participants to choose a Birmingham site of any age or status but one that is at risk.

The winning entry will receive a £150 prize with two runners up winning £50 each. A public exhibition showcasing shortlisted entries will be displayed as part of the Love Architecture Festival which starts on June 20.

 

 

Birmingham Civic Society is committed to the preservation of Birmingham’s heritage and leading the Re-imagine project is trustee Gavin Orton of Bryant Priest Newman architects, who is also chair of the Society’s planning committee.

“Although we have noted certain specific buildings, the aim is to raise positive debate/discussion in the broadest sense on how we retain, re-use and re-imagine our built heritage – whether a 16th century timber framed building or a 1960s concrete library,” he said.

“We felt that it was very important to have a range of buildings from different periods, architectural styles and uses – reflecting the diverse architectural heritage of Birmingham.

“There are many buildings across our city at risk that are important to local communities.

“In addition to the five specific buildings, we included the ‘Wildcard’: this will enable people/groups/organisations to submit ideas for buildings that they know and love which are at risk.

One of the buildings on the Re-imagine selection is the Central Library in the city centre which is earmarked for demolition in the autumn of 2014 to make way for the new Paradise Circus mixed-use development.

“When consulting people before the launch of the competition regarding which buildings should be included, some specifically mentioned Central Library and suggested ideas for what it could be used for,” said Mr Orton.

“We felt that it was important to include it within the selection of buildings: having a design ideas competition for the re-use of buildings that are at risk, vacant and/or facing imminent demolition that did not include Central Library would not reflect the discussions we have had.”

Deadline for submissions is June 13, 2014. Entries should comprise two A3 sheets including a written description of no more than 300 words explaining the idea along with sketches, photographs, or other visuals.

For more information email Gavin Orton at gavin@bryantpriestnewman.com

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