Former Christopher Wray Building, Birmingham
Can we make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? We thought so and we have!
It helped that the sow’s ear sat next to the largest new city park in Europe, and at the gateway of one of the two most important development zones in Birmingham.
The former Christopher Wray Lighting Factory comprised an eclectic mix of buildings which developed since the mid 18th century from a row of cottages to a light industrial complex. Its most recent use was as the workshops and showroom for Christopher Wray lighting, who stopped using it around 10 years ago.
Following nearly three years of pre planning consultation, Czero obtained planning and listed building consents a student-led mixed-use scheme in December 2015. Called “The Emporium”, it was designed to provide 184 student studios in a new 15 storey tower, with the historic buildings all converted as part of the development.
The project is nearing completion, with the tower now completed and the listed building parts to be finished in early 2019.
This project has its own dedicated website
The Emporium takes forward three centuries of changing use for the buildings between Bartholomew Row and Fox Street, with a mix of uses that suit the environment around them.
The development proposal maximises the retention of historic fabric, which was a key requirement of the Council’s Conservation Officer and Heritage England. In order to do that, around 5,600m2 of new building needs to be accommodated on just 560m2 of footprint, while respecting the height of the existing buildings, and the delicate Malt House roof.
Various options were explored, but the final design solution which achieved all the goals best was to have what is essentially a pair of buildings, one three storey to the same height as the Bartholomew Row elevation and making the corner, and then a 15 storey tower. The tower is offset at an angle away from the listed building, joined to it at the Fox Street entrance with a wedge-shaped glass link.
Find out more on our Saving Bartholomew Row website.