Competition scheme for a new public square in Birmingham
In it’s current state, Centenary Square lacks a sense of cohesion and clear definition at its edges. Furthermore, opportunities for small groups or individuals to comfortably occupy the public space are not well catered for. As a result, the square lacks the sense of enclosure and amenity afforded by a public room. Our scheme addresses this by introducing a human scaled colonnade, which serves to define a public room that is substantial enough to accommodate large events and gatherings whilst providing edges for occupation by smaller groups and individuals. At the same time, the square remains porous, allowing for free movement and linking between adjacent precincts in Birmingham. The colonnade houses services and amenities including power for market stalls and exhibitions, lighting, seating and bike storage. Brick paving unifies the edges of the square and makes reference to Birmingham’s built heritage of red brick and terracotta. In locating the urban room, the existing brick carpet is cropped but otherwise retained – bricks that are necessarily removed are repurposed to line the vaulted ceiling of the colonnade. A significant green space introduces a wild landscape within the urban room, including a reed planted stormwater filtration bed.