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Beorma Quarter, Birmingham : Digbeth Architecture

Development in Birmingham, England – design by Trevor Horne Architects

21 May 2009

Beorma Quarter Digbeth

Green light granted for Beorma Quarter in Digbeth, Birmingham

Design: Trevor Horne Architects

Birmingham City Council has today unanimously resolved to grant planning approval for Beorma Quarter, a £150 million mixed-use development located adjacent to Bullring and the world renowned Selfridges building (subject to referral to the Government Office for the West Midlands for listed building consent and signature of the Section 106 agreement). Beorma Quarter is the first direct UK development by Salhia Investments, one of Kuwait’s largest and most respected property developers.

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Designed by London-based Trevor Horne Architects, Beorma Quarter will provide 60,231 sq m (648,334 sq ft) of first class accommodation, with the majority of space being dedicated to BREEAM Excellent offices. The 0.77 hectare site comprises three exceptional new buildings, the refurbishment of a Grade II listed Cold Store and the retention of additional locally listed facades. The cluster of buildings will be set around Orwell Place – an expansive new public space. In total, the proposed new public space at Beorma Quarter takes up 30 per cent of the ground plan.

Abdulaziz Alnafisi, board member and investment group head of Salhia Investments comments: “Over the past 35 years, Salhia has built its reputation on developing, owning and managing landmark mixed-use developments in Kuwait and overseas. We take pride in our successful development projects in Continental Europe and the joint venture vehicles we have established in the UK, such as Key Property Investments – a company owned equally by Salhia and Birmingham headquartered St Modwen Properties plc.

“Beorma Quarter marks a very exciting ‘first’ for Salhia, as our only direct investment into the UK. We were keen to develop our own project, and the due diligence we carried out, together with the enthusiasm and support for the scheme we received from the City Council proved to us that Birmingham was the best place to invest.

“Beorma Quarter has been designed to respond to the initial thoughts raised in the Big City Plan. This is an incredibly ambitious city centre masterplan, and as a foreign investor, it made it clear to us which direction Birmingham is heading, making the decision to invest an easy one. For this reason, we have assigned appropriate funds to develop the Beorma Quarter scheme and commence construction work as soon as possible.”

The first phase of Beorma Quarter will include the refurbishment of the landmark Grade II listed Cold Store that fronts onto Digbeth High Street. The 2,431 sq m (26,170 sq ft) warehouse style building will be redeveloped as an innovation centre to support and enhance the local creative community. The sensitively refurbished building will act as a centrepiece of Beorma Quarter and it will also accommodate restaurant and gallery space. Designed by Ernest Bewley, the Cold Store was constructed in 1899 for the Lind British Refrigeration Corporation.

Cllr Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council comments: “The Beorma Quarter site demarcates the historic centre of our city – the very birthplace of Birmingham. It was here in Anglo Saxon times that Beorma’s tribe settled and first gave Birmingham its name. I am therefore delighted that Salhia has put its full commitment behind this development, with the aim of re-establishing the area around St Martin’s Church as the true heart of Birmingham.

“I am sure that this Kuwaiti backed scheme will be the start of a solid friendship between Birmingham and Kuwait. Indeed, I have been out to Kuwait City myself to talk to Salhia directly about future inward investment and addressed the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce. Beorma Quarter demonstrates that Birmingham is now a key strategic location for foreign investment and our reputation amongst some of the most active, and able, financiers is highly regarded.

“Beorma Quarter will inject £150 million of investment into this key part of Digbeth, next to Bullring and the Wholesale Markets. This is a crucial development in the ongoing renaissance of Birmingham and I am delighted that hundreds of construction jobs will be created when work commences on site.”

The plans for Beorma Quarter also include a 27 storey tower, creating 340,183 sq ft of iconic BREEAM Excellent space for Birmingham’s prime office market. The facade of the tower will create a shimmering and dynamic kinetic elevation, providing a unique building for Birmingham’s skyline. The roof of the tower is in line with the Rotunda, whilst the Park Street facade is articulated at the shoulder height of the Selfridges building with a double height sky garden.

In medieval England, enclosed fields extending the confines of a medieval settlement were called burgage plots. The original Birmingham settlement consisted of over 300 burgage plots, of which the seven that remain are all located on the site of Beorma Quarter. The staggered form of the 27 storey tower has been purposely designed to reflect these remaining burgage plots. By extruding in three dimensions, the building is giving a physical form to the original land ownership at the heart of historic Birmingham.

Across the entire Beorma Quarter scheme, there is a commitment to achieve 20 per cent on-site renewable energy. All buildings, including the Cold Store, will utilise a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system and an Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) system to optimise energy efficiency and minimise CO2 emissions. It is proposed that site utilities will be distributed from a single central Energy Centre within Building B (a 13 storey office building) on the west side of the development.

Beorma Quarter Birmingham images / information from Trevor Horne Architects

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