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 Friday 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?

Restoring the University Crests

You may have noticed that a key feature at the heart of our historic campus is slowly being removed. Namely, the University Crests, which sit above the entrance of the former library. But, never fear, they will be back!

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Off to the restorers 

On 26 June, scaffolding was erected on the front facade of the former library to enable the continued demolition of the site. They are also being used to enable specialists to remove the University Crests. They are currently being safely packed to be sent to expert restorers who will return the Crests to their former glory. They will then be incorporated back at the ‘heart’ of campus in the Green Heart in 2019. If you watch our animation, you’ll spot them at the end of the video.

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The Crests will be back in 2019 as part of the Green Heart

Did you know… the original University coat of arms was designed in 1900 and its symbols, a double headed lion and a mermaid holding a mirror and comb, are an echo of the institution’s predecessor coat of arms, Mason College. The shields at the top of the former library were chiseled directly into the stone on the building during its construction in 1958.

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Chiseling away in 1958

Have you found our bears yet?

If you go down to University of Birmingham’s campus this summer, you’re in for a bear-illiant surprise!

This summer the University of Birmingham is delighted to be supporting Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, in collaboration with Wild in Art, to host The Big Sleuth. We are sponsoring three bear sculptures to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

On 10 July, three paw-some bears arrived on campus, but have you found them yet? Use your bear-y good detective skills by following our interactive trail to complete your mission and become a super-sleuth. We even have a watchful bear overseeing the creation of the Green Heart throughout the summer! As well as a trail, we will be hosting an array of family events to keep little cubs entertained this holiday and lots of Twitter competitions! All our events are free, so why not come and discover all the University has to offer including some of Birmingham’s finest cultural assets.

Head to our website now and follow our bears on Twitter @beekind_thebear, @buzz_thebear and @rosie_the_bear.

One of the UK’s best green spaces

Our Edgbaston campus has been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best green spaces in the world!

The University is among a record-breaking 1,797 UK parks and green spaces that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award; the mark of a quality park or green space. This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Our stunning grounds are maintained by a 38 strong team of dedicated Grounds staff. They’re the first team on campus at 06:00am and are responsible for managing, beautifying and improving every inch of our 250 acre campus. One of their greatest achievements is developing a huge recycling and waste initiative.

Their next challenge will be helping to create the Green Heart, adding another 12 acres to our Green Flag campus. After a busy summer, the Grounds team will be planting over 100 new trees in the space including apple, cherry, beech, oak and maple.

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UoB’s Grounds and Gardens Team

Are you ready for landscaping?

As you may have noticed, the first steps towards creating the Green Heart are fully underway in University Square. The former library is quickly coming down and on track to be completed in October. This is the first the major stage of phase one of development from August 2017 – January 2018.

But, are you prepared and clued up on the next stage of landscaping?

In early August, the section of University Square closest to the Arts Building and the former library will be cordoned off by mesh hoardings until January 2018. Accessibility around this site will be maintained throughout the works with the installation of temporary ramps and new pathways. This will ensure that everyone can navigate the new routes easily and safely.

To help you navigate the changes, look out for directional signage in University Square, the Arts Building and Muirhead Tower. Make sure you follow us on Twitter for the latest updates and, check out our new landscaping webpage for weekly building reports.

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Phase 1 of landscaping

A sustainable Green Heart

What’s that mound of earth behind the new Library? We can reassure you that we are not building our own sand dunes on campus, nor is it a modern art installation. It is actually yet another way in which the Green Heart is living up to its green credentials.

As we begin to landscape the Green Heart this July, we will lay 12,750m2 of grass area including turf, wild flower meadow and seeding before completion in 2019. To that end, the earth mound behind the Library is specifically a large pile of topsoil. This has come from the old sports fields which are currently being redeveloped into new 4G sports pitches.

Rather than waste the soil from those pitches, we have moved it to behind the Library for storage, until it can be re-purposed under the Green Heart’s new lawns. Through cross project team collaboration, we’ve boosted both project’s sustainability and saved money by not sending the soil away and, when the time was right, bringing it all back again. In numbers, we’re saved around 4,300m3, that’s about 500 lorry loads, going off-site only to come back  again later at a price. Pretty clever.

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Bit difficult to take an ‘interesting’ photo of a construction site… so here’s a digger at the sport pitches