What a year!

As 2017 draws to a close, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the huge progress that the Green Heart has made this year!

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their patience and support during this time of huge change on the University’s campus.

From July, we took the first steps to creating a stunning 12 acre parkland at the heart of our historic campus; hoping to restore a 100 year old vision, as well as provide facilities for the 21st Century. After our students completed their summer exams, work began to demolish the former library (which was completed in November) and soon the east side of University Square was cordoned off to begin landscaping. Aside from the beginning of the creation of the parkland, you have also helped shape your space by partaking in our paving poll, consultations and getting involved on social media! We have also been out and about meeting staff, students and local residents to show off our plans in 360 VR and creating a host of resources for everyone to use including the Green Heart animation.

The team will be back in 2018, when we can look forward to the completion of University Square!

Meet the Green Heart team…

Hi everyone!

We would like to introduce you to the team behind the scenes at Willmott Dixon making the Green Heart a reality. Willmott Dixon are one of the UK’s leading construction contractor specialists and are using their expertise to ensure that the creation of our new parkland goes smoothly. As well as making sure that progress on site continues as planned, the team have also joined University Green Heart colleagues at Open Days and other public events to answer all your questions. They are also coordinating some fantastic work experience schemes and school’s projects to inspire the next generation of constructors.

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A tree-umph on campus

On 28 November, the Green Heart Project team held a ceremony to celebrate the first of 160 new trees arriving on campus. To ensure that the parkland is in keeping with the campus’ more established greenery, trees of different growth rates, from semi-mature to mature, were selected to be planted. Therefore, University Square now has a new selection of trees between 5-7 metres to compliment the scenery.

Aside from 160 new trees, and protecting 144 existing trees, the Green Heart will bring an array of wild flowers and lush grass areas 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. Water features will also provide a relaxing audio backdrop, be a natural source of drainage management and further attract wildlife. All this means that the Green Heart will be a serene area for both wildlife and people.

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What a tree-tastic event!

A new beginning…

Last week the demolition of the former library came to a close. We would firstly like to thank everyone for their patience during this time. Now that the demolition is complete, landscaping can begin on the site behind the current hoardings. Towards the end of the month, we will start excavation of the Green Heart’s amphitheatre which will sit on the former North Car Park site.

Some of you have also been in contact to ask why part of the former library has not been demolished. We can reassure you that we have not forgotten a bit, the raised platform which remains at the centre of campus is in fact an electrical substation. The substation provides power to a number of buildings in the area and would have been incredibly expensive to relocate as part of the Green Heart project. Therefore, the Project team asked the landscape architects to incorporate it into their design for the new parkland. If you watch our Green Heart animation, from 20 seconds, you will see a raised platform on the right-hand side with the University Crests attached; this is part of the incorporated substation.

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A new beginning…

Developing opportunities for our students

University of Birmingham Geography Student Eva Corley is interested in a career in Landscape Architecture, so when she got in contact with the Green Heart team, we put her in touch with our site teams.

Eva has been working with Chris Churchman from Churchman Landscape Architects for the last month, learning the tricks of the trade and developing her skills for a successful future career. She will continue her experience throughout her studies, having the opportunity to under tasks across a range of mini-projects and teams.

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Eva and Chris immersed in landscape drawing

Chris will also set Eva up on her own project, redesigning one of the University’s lodge gardens! We asked Eva how she was getting on:

My experience so far working with the Green Heart team has been a fascinating insight into all the work going on behind the construction site. I have experienced the complicated process of undergoing such a large and prestigious landscaping project, including working with a landscape architect which will undoubtedly help me to pursue my career aspirations. Everyone has been very friendly and supportive which has given me confidence and motivation to keep working towards my goals. 

Are you a UoB student interested in work experience with the Green Heart? Please email the team at greenheart@contacts.bham.ac.uk and tell us what area of work you are interested in, and we will see how we support you in your career development.

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Learning from the best

Unveiling our Estates Strategy… Phase 2

The University of Birmingham’s Estates Strategy capital masterplan, which cover the five-year period 2016-2012, is well underway, and has seen the opening of the Library and the Sport & Fitness Club, among other projects. The University has now announced Phase 2 of this plan, which outlines new projects between 2022 – 2026.

Phase 2 continues to focus on our students, with a significant academic building being delivered every year for five years, starting in 2018 with the completion of the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), which will transform science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning. There are also four other new flagship projects as part of the new phase:

  • A new teaching and learning facility, which will be a hub for education. The building will provide a large lecture theatre and an interactive lecture theatre with supporting social space to support the modern learning experience at Birmingham.
  • The new School of Engineering, due for completion in 2020, will bring together all of our engineering disciplines into one state-of-the-art building. It will incorporate a new centre of excellence in rail innovation, bringing industry into the heart of our campus.
  • The new Molecular Sciences Building will be a focal point for strengthening our core research capabilities in the chemical, environmental and bio-molecular sciences. A designated hub for the School of Chemistry will be created and office and laboratory accommodation will be provided for existing School academic staff and researchers.
  • An extension to the University Business School will provide much needed facilities to a successful and growing centre of excellence, allowing the majority of its activities to take place in one building from 2019.

In total, these projects represent an investment of more than £200m as part of the £606m total investment in the Estate in the coming years, using a mixed model of funding. The total includes a proportion of private investment, reflecting the strong financial position the University is in. This ambitious programme is part of the important role we have in celebrating, protecting and upgrading University buildings for the benefit of students and the academic community, building on the history of the institution.

Find out more about what the University of Birmingham is developing in our Estates Strategy brochure.

Inspiring the next generation

On 30 September, Willmott Dixon’s Green Heart Project Team stepped outside their normal roles to host the first site visit for Year 8 pupils from University of Birmingham School.

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First site visit

The visit of 30 pupils is part of an enrichment programme developed by the Team as a Corporate Partner to UoB School. The programme is part of their wider community engagement delivered as the University of Birmingham’s Construction Partner supporting the work done by the University’s Team promoting the project.

The curriculum enrichment programme developed with the School uses the Green Heart as a demonstration project to introduce pupils to construction and the wide range of careers in the industry.

The programme of 5 weekly sessions will ultimately see 120 pupils introduced to the Green Heart Project, the Team and visiting the live site.

Members of the Willmott Dixon Team are taking the pupils through their roles and, using the animations and BIM, showcasing some of the less well known career opportunities offered by the construction industry.

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Finding out about the Green Heart

The Green Heart Bridge has provided a great focus for project activities. Groups have designed; built and costed a bridge of their own and in the last week will come together as one team to build a full size bridge provided by the Institute of Civil Engineers.

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Could you build and cost a bridge?