Improved accessibility in University Square

The first phase of Green Heart development in University Square is well underway, and will be completed in February. We will then landscape the area of University Square closest to Staff House. During this time old pathways have been changed or removed, and new pathways have been created. Thanks to your feedback, we have improved accessibility in University Square.

  1. We’ve added a new pathway that runs along the current hoardings, which means you don’t have to go all the way around to get from one side of University Square to the other.
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Get from A to B quicker

2. We’ve added more vinyl pads across grass areas, which means you get less muddy and there’s less congestion in this area.

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No more wading through the mud

3. We’ve added a new pathway across the cobbled entrance to University Square, making it easier for those with specific accessibility needs to travel in this area and gain access to the ramp.

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No more cobbles

We can continue to make changes with your help. If you think accessibility could be improved further in specific area, please get in touch at greenheart@contacts.bham.ac.uk and we will get to work.

Open Doors 2018

Every year, major construction sites across the country offer the unique chance for the public to go behind the scenes and discover how these structures are changing our landscapes and communities. Open Doors 2018 takes place from Monday 19 – Saturday 24 March 2018 and one of the University’s key contractors, Willmott Dixon, will be opening three sites on campus to students, staff and the local community: the Green Heart, Park Grange Data Centre and the conversion of the old gymnasium.

On 22 and 23 March you have the opportunity to book onto a free tour where you will get to see the beginning of the Green Heart’s second phase of works, Park Grange Data Centre’s external works and engineering fit out and the erecting of the steel-frame and cladding of the old gymnasium. So whether you’re a budding engineer, live in the local area or just interested in finding out what’s going on across campus, make sure you join us.

Places are limited, so book your spot today. Registration ends on 23 February.

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Get a sneak peek behind the scenes on our construction sites

Get on your bike!

With Christmas in the rear view mirror, and spring (somewhere) on the horizon, perhaps now is the time to consider changing how you travel to work?  Lots of New Year’s resolutions revolve around getting fit and healthy, saving money or living more environmentally friendly.  Cycling to work ticks all the boxes and the Universities Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator Peter Edwards is here to help you get started.

The Sustainable Travel team operate a staff bike loan scheme that enables you to borrow a hybrid bike for a minimum of 4 weeks complete with lights, a lock and even a helmet.  We can even help you plan a route using quieter roads, off-road routes and shared use paths if you want to avoid busy roads. We have 7 bikes in total with a wide range of sizes suitable for men and women.

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Join the team

In the last year more than 30 members of staff have loaned bikes and lots have gone on to buy their own bike via our salary sacrifice Cyclescheme.

‘Never before would I have considered cycling as a viable and enjoyable means of commuting to and from work’ Andrew (Business School)

‘I think the scheme is fantastic.  I’ve gone from a really nervous cyclist to really loving it and have now bought my own bike to ride to work’ Hannah (DARO)

The University is well placed to cycle to with the canal (although closed from next week for improvements), shared use paths all along Bristol Road and not far from the scenic Rea Valley and Bournbrook routes.  Cycling to work will help you live healthily, arrive refreshed and ready for work, live longer and save money (especially if you’ve got a free loan bike) so why not give it a try?  You’ll even be able to park right outside your office! To find out more, get in touch with the team today.

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!

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…

Did you get your copy?

We recently delivered the University’s community magazine to over 40,000 households in the local area. Did you get your copy of Community Buzz through the letterbox if you live nearby? If you didn’t, don’t worry, you can download your copy of Community Buzz Autumn 2017 now!

The magazine is teeming with the latest University news, events, and research and educational highlights. Make sure you save the date for the 2018 Art & Science Festival and why not book onto one of our exciting cultural tours. Also find out how our students are making a difference in the local community and transforming lives; it’s all in the magazine and much more. Our very own Green Heart project also features, discussing how we will restore a 100 year old vision by 2019.

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Download your free copy today!

Let’s get bikes on campus!

The University of Birmingham has launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to bring a free cycle hire scheme to campus. Think ‘Boris Bikes’: As part of a national competition, the University has been shortlisted along with four others to compete for the scheme which will transform the way students, staff and the local community travel across campus.

The University needs to raise at least £47,000 through crowdfunding in order to win an investment of £100,000 from Santander to get the scheme up and running. This would establish 8 bike stations at locations across campus and 50 bikes from the outset.

Since launching yesterday, the campaign has already gained 41 supporters and raised 33% of its target!

Can you help the University bring bikes to campus? You can access the crowdfunding campaign online and make a contribution. A contribution as little as £5 can get you a reward to mark your involvement with the programme. You have until 8 December to make this ambitious scheme a reality! Show your support by using #bikesforbrum.

#bikesforbrum from The University of Birmingham on Vimeo.

 

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.