It’s National Walking Month

Did you know that May is National Walking Month? Steered by the Living Streets organisation, National Walking Month aims to get us all walking outdoors; whether that’s to work or school, on a city trail or in your local community. Since 1929, Living Streets have not only been encouraging us to walk, but also campaigning for safer roads and pavements, and tackling congestion and pollution.

The University of Birmingham campus stretches across 672 acres. That is a lot of walking space. You can walk and discover our campus on one of our blue plaque or sculpture trails, or explore 7 acres of tranquil botanical gardens at Winterbourne House and Garden. We are also home to some of Birmingham’s finest cultural assets including the Lapworth Museum of Geology and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and they are all within walking distance of one another on the Edgbaston campus.

When the Green Heart arrives in 2019, it will bring over 12 acres of new parkland to campus. There will be an increased number of new and improved walkways and cycle paths that will benefit from zoned lighting, to make walking safer, and new directional and information signage. The new walkways will even help the environment, as they will generate energy as people walk on them!

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Improved signage, walkways, lighting and technology

Did you get your copy?

This week we 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 the Community Buzz Spring 2017 now!

The magazine is teeming with the latest University news, events and research and education highlights. Make sure you save the date for our up-and-coming free family activities and workshops at the Community Festival on 11 June. Plus, why not visit a Monet masterpiece at the Barber Institute, see Allan Lamb at the Bramall or discover our work on cancer research; it’s all in the magazine and much more. Our very own Green Heart project also features, discussing the consultation results and all the exciting things to look forward to in 2019.

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Download your free copy today!

How you helped to pave the way?

In December 2016 and January 2017, our Green Heart student ambassadors braved the elements in University Square to take your votes in the Paving Poll. With voting also online, the Poll closed on 27 January with over 1,500 votes from University staff and students, and the local community. Thank you to everyone who voted. Your top picks were Pumpkin Patch, Squirrel Stash, Frosty Branch, Tree Carving and Birds Nest.

The Poll was a valuable tool in shaping the Green Heart and we will be incorporating three of your top five pavings.

For the criss-cross paths within University Square the Green Heart project team have selected Birds Nest.  We also agree that it would be best to use a red slab, particularly on the central path to Old Joe as this is historically appropriate. Both red pavings, Pumpkin Patch and Tree Carving, scored highly in the Poll, but we will only use one. Finally, we have favoured granites over concrete pavings, and this was evident in your feedback with granites taking prominence in your top choices.

The final selection of paving was based on a complex series of choices which the Poll fed into. Throughout this process we have consulted experts, interest groups and landscapers regarding considerations including aesthetics, colour, appropriateness to the historic environment, life expectancy, cost and accessibility for users.

We will share these recommendations with the contractors and look forward to seeing your favourite materials transform the Green Heart over the next year.

Take a tour of the Green Heart

From May 2016, the University undertook extensive public consultations in collaboration with Nomad RDC Ltd to gather your ideas for the Green Heart. Thank you to everyone who gave their views and ideas. Your suggestions have now been explored and incorporated into the Green Heart, and you can read the Green Heart Consultation Results now. Why not take a tour of our new campus parkland as well and see how your space is taking shape…

 

Meet the Green Heart team…

Hi everyone,

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!

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The office robot probably won’t feature in the Green Heart

The consultation results are in!

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!

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Thank you for helping us to shape the Green Heart vision

The Green Heart’s green credentials

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!

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Flowers, flowers everywhere