When looking at the Gun Quarter the main feeling I got from it was that it had become a forgotten part of the city; the ring road had cut off the centre of the city, but that had since been redesigned, however the canal continued to act as a barrier, as did the fact that the gun quarter no longer produced what it was named for. the present day gun quarter is made up mostly of warehouses and works buildings, there is little to no commercial centers, save for a few nightclubs.
My primary inspiration for this scheme was the Birmingham Central Library by John Madin, which is located less than a mile from the site.
I felt that this related to the current situation of the Birmingham Central Library, which has played a large part in the centre of Birmingham, dividing opinion. The new Birmingham Library is currently under construction and once it is finished the old library will be demolished, so I tried to make my design a homage to the library.
The following images are sketches from my work book showing how the scheme developed:
The gun quarter is made up of a dense collection of structures. The purpose of these structures is unvaried and the buildings themselves are largely unchanged, with the exception of some renovations to existing building and some recently constructed residential buildings.
Buildings back onto each other and are only broken up by roads, car parks and the occasional derelict space.
The fine urban grain has resulted in very cramped spaces, which has made some of the buildings to appear to have been ‘tacked’ onto the side of pre-existing structures.
With the buildings in the gun quarter not only so close together, but also close to the road, the limited space for pedestrians creates a string feeling of enclosure. This is best exemplified by the canal side path; there is only a pathway on one side of the canal, the other has structures which extent to the canal itself.
The single pathway is also a national cycle route, and at approximately two meters wide is considerably cramped, especially as the nearby structures do not leave much room with foliage and vegetation, and what there is of it is overgrown and encroaches onto the pathway.
View from canalside pathway showing existing sturctures (L), and the Library (R).
Client: Birmingham City University
Location: Cliveland Street, Gun Quarter, Birmingham, UK
Site area: 946.67 m²
Building footprint: 946.67 m²
Year: 2012 (2nd Year University project)
This project combines a small building footprint with the challenge of designing a high rise structure in a predominately low rise area.