Brummies campaign to save this 1960s Brutalist building in Birmingham city centre

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The iconic building in Birmingham city centre was built in the 1960s by James Roberts, the architect of The Rotunda, and is one of the few Brutalist buildings left in the city

One of the most popular Brutalist buildings in Birmingham is in danger and some local organisations are trying to save it. Brummies staged a protest during Birmingham Pride parade on Saturday (May 27) as part of their efforts to protect the at risk building.

The iconic building in Birmingham city centre was built in the 1960s by James Roberts, the architect of The Rotunda, and is one of the few Brutalist buildings left in the city. It could be demolished to make way for high rise residential buildings.

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So, a consortium of Birmingham organisations like Brutiful Birmingham, Zero Carbon House, Birmingham Modernist and C20th Society West Midlands have been campaiging to save the iconic building - called The Ringway Centre in Smallbrook Queensway.

The building made in the Birmingham Brutalist style developed in the 1960s has been included by the Twentieth Century Society in its list of buildings at risk. It was a landmark building in the post-war redevelopment of Birmingham.

The Ringway Centre is also part of the Local List. According to the Birmingham City Council, a Locally Listed Building is a building, structure or feature which, whilst not listed by the Secretary of State, but has been designated an important part of Birmingham’s heritage due to its architectural, historic or archaeological significance.

The group of local organisations want to save the building not just because of the history but also due to the carbon cost of demolition and construction. Mary Keating of Brutiful Brum said: “The environmental cost of demolition is well documented. When calculating the whole life carbon cost of a building, up to 75% is the building/construction itself.”

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A planning application lodged by Commercial Estates Group (CEG) wants to replace it with three giant buildings with around 1,750 flats, a spa, cinema, gym and nightclub.

The Ringway Centre (Photo - Google Maps)The Ringway Centre (Photo - Google Maps)
The Ringway Centre (Photo - Google Maps) | Google Maps

Counter proposal to the Ringway Centre’s demolition

A counter proposal was developed by the consortium. This repurposing proposal for residential and commercial development demonstrates how the building can be retained, the energy efficiency of the building can be brought up to current standards and space added in the form of discreet, oval, twenty storey towers that pay homage to The Rotunda (James Roberts, 1965).

The campaign has harnessed support from Targeting Zero co-founder Simon Sturgis AADip RIBA, and three Stirling Prize-winning architects: Níall McLaughlin, Peter St John, and Steve Tompkins. The application is expected to be considered at the planning committee on June 15.

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