Czero Developments

Historic Buildings

Making historic buildings energy efficient is a great challenge, and in many ways much more difficult than building afresh. Czero is working on historic building projects where the end use has residential components, and so is combining the knowledge of energy efficient development with a knowledge and understanding of historic buildings.

The historic building knowledge comes from Simon Linford’s former involvement with Linford-Bridgeman, one of the foremost historic building restoration contractors. This has enabled Czero to get involved with difficult projects involving listed buildings, gaining the confidence of planners and conservation officers in terms of ability to deal with historic fabric, whilst being able to bring up to date techniques for improving the building fabric.

Christopher Wray factory Birmingham The Emporium

Former Christopher Wray Lighting Factory

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 was successfully completed in 2019.

The Emporium Scheme

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.