Birmingham is a city of a myriad of buildings that form an affluent architectural timeline of speckled design inspirations and aspirations. The booming city has a rich heritage of architectural styles that have been influenced by historical events and architectural interventions time and again. These styles are evident in churches, public buildings, and manors. One of the largest metropolitans of the United Kingdom, Birmingham is a booming cultural, financial and social, all of which caters to the increasingly expanding architectural industry. New contemporary buildings designed to RIBA standards lace the Birmingham skyline. As a whole, this city is a place of architectural interest, however, here are the 15 that one may put on their radar.
1. Church of St. Martin, Bull Ring
The church is located on one of the most prominent localities of Birmingham. Having undergone a multitude of demolitions and epochs of rebuilding and restoration, this neo-gothic marvel still retains its past glory and spatial enigma.
2. St Philip’s Cathedral
The church was designed by Thomas Archer in 1715 and is a result of his design inspiration from the churches by Borromini. The architectural style is baroque with influences from Italian and English church styles.
3. Our Lady Help of Christian Church, Tile Cross
A series of curved concrete trusses makes this church a dramatic and expressive sculptural interpretation of traditional Roman Catholic churches. It is designed by Richard Gilbert Scott.
4. Old Crown
One of the oldest standing secular building of the medieval period, this fragile structure comprises of timber frame construction and an interesting history of changing functionalities.
5. Aston Hall and Gardens
Designed by Sir Thomas Holte in 1635, this building is one of the surviving and true examples of Jacobean architecture in Birmingham. Rich in structure, ornamentation and cultured interiors, the building sits amid vast picturesque gardens, reflecting on the romantic aspirations of English gardens.
6. Victoria Law Courts
A vision in red terracotta, this magistrates’ building was designed by Aston Webb and Ingress Bell in 1886. The façade is intricately beautified by terracotta ornamentation and is quite a spectacle from the streets.
7. The Exchange
The building was designed by Frederick Martin of Martin and Chamberlain, in 1896 as a telephone exchange office. The building is built in Gothic revival with the characteristic iron girders and exposed glass windows and a red sandstone façade.
8. Selly Manor, Bournville
The museum is an ancient timber-framed manor house amid picturesque gardens and greenery. It is one of the oldest manor houses of Birmingham and holds heritage importance. Acquired by George Cadbury when it was about to be demolished, the building holds interesting exhibitions and displays.
9. Back to Backs
A reminiscence of an ancient lifestyle, these red brick-walled, courtyard houses are the last remaining of the back-to-back houses of Birmingham.
10. Sellfridges, Bullring
Birmingham’s contemporary landmark, the structure is an example of ‘Blobitecture’-where the building form is analogous to amoeba-shaped forms. It is situated in the central market complex and forms a unique visual interest. The building was designed by Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete.
11. Library of Birmingham
The library is designed by Mecanoo Architects consisting of hollow rotundas, that bring in the natural light and form the spatial basis of the structure. A unique addition and opportunity to collaborate with the other existing structures of the plaza square, it goes beyond societal, cultural and historical ultimatums.
12. New Street Station
The recent expansive renovations of this 1960s transport hub by AZPML, has added another significant landmark to the city of Birmingham. The structure and form of the station are reflective of the undulation imagery created by a moving train. A similar language is established in all aspects of the building.
13. Rockwood Academy
This is an interesting restoration and renovation project by Haworth Tompkins. The school initially had a terrible structure with ill-designed spatial demarcations. The architectural interventions have now transformed the space into a performative, spatially sound narrative that is reflective of the curriculum that the school propagates.
14. The Cube
An old landmark of the city, the Cube is designed by Ken Shuttleworth as an attempt to create an architectural intervention on the world platform. The fancy façade system has an interesting design inspiration reflective of the city’s industrial roots.
15. Spiral Café
Designed by Marks Barfield, this innovation is a design inspiration for the Fibonacci series. The café is situated in the Bullring area and is an interesting architectural experiment.
A dreamy architect in the making, Ankeeta enjoys observing the world as it is. Her interests vary from Murakami to the latest Ellie Saab. And somewhere, within that bandwidth, lies architecture and its extremities. She loves to ponder upon the intricacies of the built-unbuilt and the stories behind every aspect of it.