Identity and sense of place are important elements of any University Campus. Identity differentiates one institution from another, making it stand out and be memorable while an associated sense of place helps to foster feelings of community and belonging. When we asked people, we discovered that the University of Birmingham is viewed foremost as a prestigious and scholarly institution, which is classic, historic and iconic. Important aspects of this include the sweeping arc of the Aston Webb/Bramall Buildings, old Joe and the red brick aesthetic.
Students, staff and members of the public are proud of the University, and many are keen to retain the traditional aesthetic and showcase its achievements via statues, plaques, information points and exhibits. However the notion of the campus identity as leafy, green and scenic featured in equal measure. The most desired features on campus were all natural, such as mature trees and hedges, flowers and shrubs, and water features, fountains or ponds.
Overall, the Green Heart should have a calm and peaceful atmosphere with wooded, natural elements and it is important that the campus portrays a welcoming/ friendly atmosphere. Currently, the campus is a vital social role for all its users and is even a popular location for tourists. However, the desire for communal eating and study areas, as well as events such as film screenings and music concerts highlights the opportunity for the Green Heart to become a prominent social hub for students, staff and the people of Birmingham. We think that the Green Heart represents the ideal opportunity to nd a complimentary balance between these identities, enhancing people’s connection with the University, while also designing something that feels contemporary and ts the University’s future aspirations.