This is the first image of the dramatic skyscraper that could be the newest addition to Birmingham’s skyline, it was revealed as the city and the West Midlands celebrated a clutch of major architectural awards.
The new skyscraper will be the focal point of the Beorma Quarter, an area of offices, a hotel and basement parking situated next to Selfridges in Digbeth.
The image was revealed as Birmingham and the West Midlands landed an unprecedented seven winners in the RIBA Awards - the country’s top competition for architects.
Among them was Fort Dunlop, the new home of The Birmingham Post, and Beetham Tower at Holloway Head.
The other buildings across the West Midlands to be given awards were Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre; St Jude’s School and the new Pop Art Gallery in Wolverhampton; the new chapter at the Kings School, Worcester; and the design studios at the Aston Martin plant in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The RIBA Awards are presented annually to the best buildings across the UK, recognising excellence in architectural design. A spokeswoman said: “It shows what a breadth of great buildings there is here.”
That quality could be further enhanced if plans for the Beorma Quarter skyscraper come to fruition. It would be built around the Grade II listed Digbeth Cold Store and Music Hall, which are both protected by preservation orders.
The original plans envisaged The Cold Store being revamped as a theatre or concert venue, topped by a glass bubble inspired by the famous structure of nearby Selfridges.
The scheme, which will see a series of tall buildings and public squares being created, has been described by Trevor Horne Architects as a “city within a city”.
A spokesman for Kuwait-based Sahlia Investments said the scheme was still at pre-application stage and was “evolving” all the time.
Architect Trevor Horne told the city council’s conservation advisory panel last December that the former music hall in Park Street would feature a 30-storey hotel rising above it in staged points, with only the original facade of the building left in place.
Members of the panel, which is made up of conservation groups, described the plans as “terrible” six months ago.
The Sahlia spokesman said: “This could be an extremely successful project for Birmingham. It ticks all the right boxes with regards to sustainability and it is very positive for the city and very forward looking.
“These things are always evolving so the final design has not yet been done. There are no plans to submit a formal planning application just yet because we have to work out what the scheme actually means.
“We are currently at pre-application consultation stage. We are talking to groups about our plans, which is part of the process.”
The spokesman also said the scheme would focus on Birmingham’s medieval history, as it is located on the site of the first settlement in the city.
A statement by Trevor Horne said: “Inspired by Luis Barragan’s Satellite City Towers, we believe a series of tall structures are a fine counter point to the curvaceous Selfridges building. A series of buildings with public spaces between create a city within a city.”
If approved, a hotel, apartments, shops, offices and a public space would surround Orwell Passage. As well as being across the road from Selfridges, it is just yards from two major regeneration sites currently under development - the new Irish Quarter and Digbeth Coach Station.
The massive drive for regeneration being carried out across the West Midlands has led to the creation of many new landmark buildings, bringing the region its best haul of architectural awards so far.
Other potential RIBA Award candidates from the West Midlands included the refurbished Town Hall in Victoria Square, a bespoke new family house in Handsworth Wood, and an extension to the Arup Campus building at Blythe Valley Park in Solihull.
Previous winners include the RSC Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Spiral Cafe on the steps behind The Bullring, and the National Cold War exhibition at the RAF Museum in Shropshire.
The RIBA awards are due to be presented in a ceremony in Birmingham this autumn. The organisation’s spokeswoman said: “Of course we are absolutely delighted with how well the West Midlands has done. One interesting thing is that there is such a good spread of different types of buildings in the awards.”