THE future for the top of Birmingham’s iconic Rotunda remains shrouded in mystery today after a project to crown it with a digital arts screen stalled.
Many of the organisations involved in the scheme admit they are in the dark over the developer’s plans.
For decades, the sight of the Coca-Cola logo at the top of the Grade II listed-Rotunda welcomed people into Birmingham city centre.
But since the building was given a new lease of life by developer Urban Splash – working with Glenn Howells Architects – there have been plans to finish it with a circular LED display which would feature digital art curated by Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery.
The £1.5 million project would be visible for miles and would broadcast artworks 70 per cent of the time and advertise the remainder and would replace the Urban Splash banner adorning the building.
It was supposed to receive 48 per cent public sector funding – £375,000 (24 per cent) from Birmingham City Council and the same amount from Advantage West Midlands.
But the project was one of the 122 schemes axed by the development agency in summer when it announced cuts to its regeneration budget of £132 million.
Since then things have gone very quiet on the plans for the digital arts screen and despite repeated attempts to contact Urban Splash to find out where the project stands the developer has so far not responded.
Glenn Howells Architects associate director Dav Bansal said he did not know when the Rotunda would be completed.
“The only thing missing is the top of the building,” he said.
The building has featured a smaller version of the proposed display – in 2007 it was topped with a 10m x 4m temporary screen showing pictures of a blinking eye watching over the city.
But both the Ikon Gallery and the London-based architectural lighting design firm Mindseye, which was asked to design the larger circular screen, said things had gone very quiet on the new project.
Ikon Gallery curator Helen Legg said: “We’re not really sure what’s happening. We have got ideas about working with some leading international figures.”
A council spokesman said the funding was still available but it was up to Urban Splash to find a replacement funder for the Advantage West Midlands funding.
But the council has said it is open to helping the developer attract further funding or to look at other options, for example on softening planning requirements on the maximum amount of advertising it was allowed to show.