I’m Sam Williams and I am the Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager for major estates development projects on the University of Birmingham campus. And what could be more major than transforming 12 acres of land at the heart of a busy University campus?
Me and my colleagues in Communications and PR have been working hard to gather your feedback about the Green Heart in order to inform the plans; with the Green Heart Consultation Results released last week. We’re also pleased to share the latest project updates with you across our various communication channels including Twitter, our website and Intranet. We also organise Green Heart public engagement events and create resources so that you can get a better idea of what the Green Heart will be and get involved in its development.
The Green Heart project is hugely exciting and aims to bring numerous benefits to our campus community, transforming the experiences of our students, staff and visitors. I’m particularly excited about the new performance space! The surveys we ran told us that students, staff and visitors were all excited to enjoy outdoor performances of theatre, music and dance. So we’re planning a tiered grass auditorium to create a unique entertainment experience that’s free and open to all. I can’t wait to see the space bustling with activity in the sunshine in 2019!
The office robot probably won’t feature in the Green Heart
From May 2016, the University undertook extensive public consultations in collaboration with Nomad RDC Ltd. These were undertaken to thoroughly understand the needs of our staff, students and local community to make sure that the new space is centred around you. Thank you to everyone who gave their views and ideas. Your suggestions have now been explored and incorporated into the Green Heart. Here are just some of the ways your ideas have shaped the vision:
- A range of wild flowers and native plants, 160 new trees, water features and nesting sites
- Space for markets, performances and events, including a grass auditorium and outdoor cinema
- A new café and bar
- Energy saving technologies, zoned lighting and energy generating paving
- Improved signage and access to information
- Dedicated areas for art, sculptures and the University Collections
Read the full Green Heart Consultation Results now!
Thank you for helping us to shape the Green Heart vision
This Monday (20 March), Spring officially began, despite the persistent rain forecast for this week. With Spring in-mind, we explore how ‘green’ the Green Heart will be? Throughout the design process, the project team have sought to create a sustainable, natural and environmentally friendly landscape; both for people and wildlife.
The Green Heart will bring an array of wild flowers and native plants to campus. These have been carefully selected to encourage local species, and we will be incorporating nesting sites to attract wildlife including bats, swifts and hedgehogs. As well as lush grass areas, we will plant 160 new trees, across 42 species, and protect 144 existing trees. This tapestry of colour and textures will improve air quality, provide shade and create a place of serenity. Water features will also provide a relaxing audio backdrop, be a natural source of drainage management and further attract wildlife.
We’ve appointed lighting experts to develop zoned lighting which will incorporate timber columns and energy-saving techniques to complement the natural environment. Carefully managed systems will enable us to keep campus safe and bright, while delivering an ambient environment and minimising light pollution or waste. We have also incorporated energy generating paving which produces power when people walk across it, and rain gardens, which will accommodate all rainwater on-site, thus doing away with conventional drains. Sounds exciting!
Flowers, flowers everywhere
As you may have spotted on our Twitter feed, the UoB Green Heart team were at the University Annual Meeting (UAM) last week. On Thursday 9 March, we set up our stall to tell our internal and external guests from across academia, business, finance, charity, health and many more sectors, all about our stunning new parkland.
Armed with our Green Heart booklets and animation (to be publicly released soon!), we talked about the benefits the parkland will bring to both the University community, and our local community. The parkland will bring over 12 acres of natural space to one of the most urban cities in the country and give everyone the opportunity to get involved.
‘… everyone seems to think that you can only improve an area if you build more…it is great to see an organisation not building something and instead investing in green space’ – UAM guest
The way in which the University contributes to the local community was the highlight of the UAM, as the Vice-Chancellor launched the University’s Economic, Social and Cultural Impact report. Did you know that almost 1 in 50 jobs in Birmingham depend on the University, or that our teaching contributes £1.34 billion to the economy? You can find out more here.
As you can see, posing is not our forte.
Following extensive consultations since May 2016, the Nomad team have now signed off from the Green Heart project. The results of their consultations with staff, students and the local community, and how your ideas have shaped the Green Heart vision, will be released soon.
For the meantime, we in the UoB Green Heart project team would like to say a big hello! Our team are now responsible for posting and tweeting all the Green Heart’s exciting new milestones as we move closer to the beginning of development at the heart of the campus. We will be bringing you all the latest news and information about the project, and be giving you plenty of opportunities to get involved and continue to shape your space.
As well as this blog and the @uobgreenheart Twitter account, we also communicate on the following channels, where you can get the latest project information:
You can also contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to sharing this exciting time with you and transforming our campus for the 21st century and beyond.
Can’t wait to work with you all!