Birmingham's Hidden Spaces is an ongoing project by Associated Architects and the Birmingham Post, revealing the secrets hidden behind the façades of Birmingham. It pushes beyond the familiar spaces we occupy day to day to reveal an unseen side of the city.
The project began 12 months ago, with the primary aim of capturing a different view of Birmingham. As architects, we have something of an eye for spaces that are different, spaces that are interesting and inspiring, spaces that tell a story and leave you feeling you have gained something from your time within them.
Working with the Post, Associated Architects set about capturing the undiscovered and lesser-known gems of Birmingham, which led to some fascinating discoveries about the city.
This supplement marks the first anniversary of the project with a brand new collection of hidden treasures.
Last Christmas, when the Post published the first articles, we had no idea how quickly Birmingham's Hidden Spaces would capture the imagination and interest of the public. It has been extremely rewarding to see a growing sense of civic pride in the city expressed so enthusiastically.
It is the curious allure of the unknown that perhaps best explains our fascination with hidden spaces. Secret, forbidden and forgotten places instill a desire to explore. It's the promise of the unexpected, the mystery and the untold back stories that allow the imagination to run wild with endless possibilities. It is a captivating journey into another world, one that sits right alongside our everyday lives.
Tales of the subterranean spaces hidden below the bustling streets of Birmingham are an endless source of speculation. Tunnels that run for miles, forgotten ballrooms, towering structures and elegant halls, all stimulate a sense of excitement and intrigue.
There is even an unexpected beauty in the decay of derelict spaces, bearing their natural wear and scars of use. In some cases, the spaces are right before our eyes, in buildings we see or visit every day. Others we may never have known existed. The only criteria is that these are spaces the public would not be able to easily visit.
Many who have lived in the city for a number of years will have witnessed it transform from a post-industrial city to the modern metropolis it is today. Now, more than ever, at a time when the city is undergoing the biggest transformations since WWII, we feel this project is a vital form of social documentation.
The city's skyline is dominated by iconic buildings and landmarks. But decades of advancement have left a legacy of hidden spaces, secret places and abandoned sights. We have endeavoured to document and celebrate the hidden gems, which are just as important as the popular icons.
For us as a Birmingham-based practice it has been revitalising to stop and take stock of the city that we work in every day, to reconnect with the bricks and mortar that has informed our work over the years. It has been a privilege to visit these places that are not normally accessible to the public and reclaim these hidden parts of the city, presenting the Birmingham in a different and positive light.
We hope you enjoy the collection and feel inspired to share what this wonderful city has to offer with others.