Broadway Malyan create largest ever model for university partnership by Broadway Malyan

Students at the University of Reading’s new School of Architecture are to benefit from a large-scale physical model of Reading town centre as part of a new partnership with Broadway Malyan.

The 1.7-square-metre model covers two square miles of Reading town centre and the surrounding area and is the most up-to-date detailed model of Reading town centre.

The carefully crafted timber model has been built in sections so it can be taken apart and have new sections added to it as the town centre evolves. Strategic development sites in Reading can be removed and replaced with proposed schemes and seen in the context of the whole townscape.

It also enables the model to be used as a learning tool for the students as well as town planners who will have access to a new ‘urban room’ for discussions on the future development of Reading.

The wooden model, which was built across 16 separate bases and then bolted together, was built by the team led by Chris Davis in Weybridge and is one of the practice’s most ambitious with almost 1,000 pieces in total.

Broadway Malyan director David Anderson said the relationship with the new School of Architecture reflected a long-standing culture in the practice of supporting the next generation of architects.

He said: “Over the past 60 years Broadway Malyan has supported hundreds of young architects through their professional training with many of them continuing their careers at the practice - in fact there are a number of the current board who first joined the practice as trainees.

“Working closely with schools of architecture is an important virtuous circle for our practice in that it allows our colleagues to offer the kind of support to young architects that they once enjoyed while also building a positive reputation for Broadway Malyan in what is ultimately a highly competitive sector.

“Broadway Malyan is a well-established practice in the Reading area and it has been fantastic to have been able to contribute to the new school of architecture from its inception and we are very excited about being able to deliver this model, which will not just be aesthetically beautiful but also a significant tool for learning.”

Professor Lorraine Farrelly, Head of School and Foundation Professor of Architecture, said: “We are extremely grateful to Broadway Malyan for the generous donation of this model of Reading town centre. It will be a great learning tool for our students, and its flexible design will offer opportunities for our students to model future scenarios of Reading town centre. Their first year design projects have been based on sites in and around the town centre.

“Broadway Malyan has been an important part of an industry and practice group who have been very supportive to inform the curriculum for our new School of Architecture, which has a strong emphasis on links with industry and practice.  I also appreciate their support offering our students valuable work experience in the course of their studies.

“With our founding cohort of students just about to proceed to their second year of study, the academic team in the School feel our first year of the new School of Architecture has been a real success. Receiving the model from Broadway Malyan is a positive ending to an exciting first year and the start of an ongoing relationship with the practice.”

The model was launched alongside a public lecture given by design director Jeff Brooks and associate Sean Cleary, both from Broadway Malyan’s London studio, which looked at the practice’s design philosophy as well as the scale of the projects that the architecture firm works on - from single buildings to large cities.


Connecting Manchester's dots for the best liveable city by Broadway Malyan

By Danny Crump

Director of Urbanism

It’s hard not to be excited about the noises coming out of City Hall.

New Metro Mayor Andy Burnham’s seat is barely warm and he is already ripping up the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework while Transport for Greater Manchester’s ‘Case for Change’ report is seeking to bring almost 100 of the region’s rail stations under its control.

These two initiatives are completely entwined and with the right approach, have the potential to massively enhance Manchester’s liveability through a programme of vibrant and exciting transport oriented communities.

The new mayor has vowed to make brownfield sites the focus of Greater Manchester’s desire to deliver more than 250,000 new homes with the emphasis on the densification of the region’s existing town centres and the city core.

This should certainly be part of the solution but Greater Manchester needs to have no limit to its ambitions. Every one of those 94 rail stations is a potential catalyst for new homes, places to work, experiential retail, cultural and civic uses as well as high quality, walkable public realm. In short, a completely reimagined and sustainable urban township.

And this certainly should not be at the exclusion of all potential Green Belt or greenfield sites. Sustainable Green Belt locations with good quality public transport nodes remain an important part of the portfolio of sites that will be needed to address the housing shortage, both in the north west and across the UK.

If a Green Belt site has a station close by then then there is undoubtedly a case that it will be more sustainable and importantly, more viable and deliverable than a heavily contaminated brownfield site that is not close to existing or planned infrastructure.

Retaining and creating urban green spaces, as well as protecting valuable areas of Green Belt across the Greater Manchester area, should all be part of the long term vision but a balanced transport orientated development approach is the way forward for plan making rather than one based on arbitrary Green Belt policy decisions made almost 80 years ago which remain the hottest of political potatoes.

If approved, the region’s local stations and associated land assets will see investment upwards of £400m from the public sector in the coming years and it is the wealth of available data that should be informing how and where this money is spent.

This data will allow planners and developers to answer a broad range of questions from how much value does being near a station add to a property to which stations will provide the greatest social benefits to a community. This data can be used to analyse complex regional areas and help identify patterns and trends, weaknesses and missed opportunities and should be a fundamental part of identifying the next generation of the region’s development projects.

Greater Manchester’s internal transport links across the region and how they are utilised will ultimately be much more important than HS2 as Manchester rethinks its strategic position beyond the UK and Europe. Now is the opportunity to create a stronghold for the best city living and a super competitive region.

There is much to be cheered by the new mayor’s first few days in office and now is the time to be innovative and brave to ensure that we have a fully integrated Manchester fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

*Broadway Malyan board director James Rayner will be speaking at the Northern Transport Summit on June 26th



Why our study tour is about so much more than architecture by Broadway Malyan

By Matt Brook, director

As we passed the signpost for Ronchamp the sense of anticipation throughout the coach was palpable.

For the majority of almost 70 colleagues assembled on the black and neon pink double decker, it is a name held in the kind of esteem a footballer regards Camp Nou or a mountaineer the Eiger’s north face.

As the location of the most recognisable work by that godfather of modernism Le Corbusier, it is a name emblazoned in the psyche of anybody who has experienced a traditional architectural training and will forever elicit an almost unique emotional response, namely extreme reverence.

Our visitto the breath-taking Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut came on day three of our recent study tour and was the piece de resistance if you will of a fantastic few days where we had already visited two other of Le Corbusier’s most important sites as well as the impressive regeneration of Lyon’s Confluence district.

It certainly didn’t disappoint. With its sculptural aesthetic offering a stunning contrast to the functionality of Firminy and the modularity of the extraordinary convent at La Tourette, it was a day that that will linger long in the memory for all of us.

And that, primarily, is why we were there.

Architecture is experiential. There really is nothing better as an architect than looking at brilliant and inspirational buildings. Not looking at pictures or plans but reacting to them up close and personal, experiencing them from every perspective.

Those long hours hunched over a desk making endless drawings are a critical aspect of our profession but it is also important to keep reminding ourselves why we are all architects and that is why the study tour is such a fundamental part of our business.

Design is our lifeblood so it is great to have these three days where design is the number one topic of conversation – it’s not forced but just seems to come naturally with a passion that carries all the way back to the studio.

Apart from a short hiatus, the study tour has long been a fundamental part of Broadway Malyan’s practice. These trips – which have taken in cities such as Copenhagen, Tokyo and Bilbao over the years – are part of a lifelong learning culture that we have always promoted at Broadway Malyan but they are also about so much more.

There is something wonderfully egalitarian about the study tour. Anybody at the practice can attend, the trip is heavily subsidised so that everyone makes the same contribution and the normal practice hierarchy is suspended for three days as Part Is and directors are brought together by their shared passion for architecture.

As the practice continues to expand internationally, so these tours are a great opportunity to embed and reinforce our shared design values and this year we had every region represented with young architects – and some not so young – from studios as far afield as Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Madrid and Warsaw and a whole smorgasbord of nationalities from Brazilian to Filipino, Danish to Venezuelan.

They are also an opportunity to bring people together from across the practice and form professional and personal relationships that can last a lifetime. Inter-studio collaboration is critical as our clients become increasingly global and the ability to pick up the phone to a colleague on the other side of the world becomes far easier if you have shared a four hour coach journey through the Loire Valley.

Next year Broadway Malyan is 60 years old and we are already looking for a fitting destination for such an important anniversary – there is a long list of exciting possibilities but there are few places quite like Ronchamp.


Plans submitted for landmark residential scheme by Broadway Malyan

A major residential scheme designed by Broadway Malyan after successfully winning a design competition, has been submitted for planning.

The proposal for 375 new homes in Walton-upon-Thames are spread across eight buildings and is set to replace the former Birds Eye headquarters which has stood empty for more than a decade.

The existing development, designed by Burnet, Tait & Partners in the early 1960s, is Grade 2 Listed as one of the first corporate headquarters buildings developed outside of the capital. The landscaping, which includes a reflective pool, and a sculpture installed when the headquarters was first developed are also listed.

Unfortunately, the loadbearing superstructure of the main office block is constructed using pre-cast beams comprising High Alumina Cement (HAC) which was subsequently banned due to its potential for catastrophic structural failure.

The building now has a limited lifespan and despite significant investigation into the feasibility of replacing the superstructure and a failed external façade that meets modern standards, it is now felt that replacing the building is the only financially viable option.

Stuart Bertie, who has led Broadway Malyan’s design team from its Weybridge studio, said the design approach for the new development was a result of a careful analysis of the original design elements of existing building and its setting.

He said: “The striking design of the existing building with its strong horizontal rhythm created by the half hexagonal aluminium pattern of the façade has been a key influence in designing a scheme that we believe is a worthy replacement architecturally while also providing a new landmark on this important site in Walton-upon-Thames.

“The proposed site layout is derived from the formal geometry of the existing development. A central ‘jewel’ building with an enclosed formal residential courtyard will be nestled among proposed brick buildings that will offer an architectural counterpoint to the main building.

“Rather than create a facsimile of the Listed façade, our proposal preserves the repetition and rhythm but reinterprets the hexagonal effect of the existing elevation with full height angled façade components that evoke the original pattern but offer a constantly changing façade throughout the day through relief and shadow,

“The brick buildings, by contrast, offer more solid and carved elements that help bed the scheme into the neighbourhood.”

The application also includes a significant landscape proposal for the six hectare site that draws on the ordered geometry of the original Birds Eye masterplan. This includes a series of streets and open spaces line with new and existing mature trees and planting within the streetscape to create rhythm, along with feature paving and a reflective pool that mirrors the façade of the central building when viewed from Station Avenue. The landscape and architectural approach have been designed in parallel to create a strong sense of place and community for future residents.

The application has been made on behalf of Crest A2Dominion and will be determined by Elmbridge Borough Council in summer 2017.


Broadway Malyan Singapore reaches 10 year milestone by Broadway Malyan Admin

Our Singapore studio has marked ten years in the country and the opening of its new design studio with a day of celebrations.

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Manifesto to create digital hub in heart of London makes competition shortlist by Broadway Malyan

A submission by Broadway Malyan’s Urbanism team examining the opportunities around ‘Smart Green Spaces’ in the City of London has been shortlisted in a major design competition.

The proposal, called Destination Bank, is one of 10 projects that have been shortlisted from hundreds of entries into the competition being run by The City Centre in partnership with the City of London Corporation and Brookfield Property Partners.

The Manifesto for the Square Mile transforms the space at Bank into a vibrant, accessible digital hub of multi-cultural activity where the daytime mecca becomes by night and weekends a centre for outdoor entertainment, recreation and education.

The proposals on the shortlist – which also includes work by Foster + Partners, Haworth Tompkins and Schréder and Atkins amongst others – will form part of an exhibition from May to July at The City Centre gallery, with each submission displayed for 10 weeks and the overall winner expected to be announced in May.

Director Monika Bik, from Broadway Malyan’s London studio, said the submission was the result of a major collaboration from across the urbanism team who met for their annual symposium in Lisbon in March.

She said: “The brief for this competition asked how we can use smart innovations to ensure that workers, residents and visitors make the most of spaces in the City while retaining a sense of tranquillity and heritage, themes that are at the very forefront of our approach on numerous projects around the world.

“This competition coincided with our Urbanism symposium so we were able to harness the collective creativity of colleagues from across the world in one room in a design charrette that developed a wide spectrum of fantastic ideas.

“To have reached this stage of this competition is testament to the talent we have within our global Urbanism team and to have turned around such an attractive approach to such a complex problem in an incredibly tight deadline is a fantastic achievement by everyone involved.”

To see the full shortlist go to


Launch marks major Latin American push into Spanish retail market by Broadway Malyan

A shopping centre redesigned and extended by Broadway Malyan to create Spain’s largest retail outlet has been launched to the public.

Sambil Outlet Centre in Madrid has 130 shops across a GLA of 43,500sqm and is the first major investment in Spain by Venezuelan group Sambil who have invested €60m in the project. The centre also has the largest indoor skydiving wind-tunnel in Europe.

Sambil acquired the centre in 2013, which is in Leganes on the outskirts of Madrid, and commissioned Broadway Malyan to develop a new interior design strategy, renovate and reimagine the indoor and outdoor food court areas as well as refresh the facades.

Jorge Ponce, who heads Broadway Malyan’s Madrid studio, said the project represented a new era for outlet centres both in terms scale and commercial offer as well as design.

“The design represents a complete change in mindset for outlet centres in Spain,” he said. “While the essence of an outlook centre is about budget shopping, we wanted to introduce a feel of quality throughout the centre through the use of materials, vegetation, lighting and the optimization of space.

“We have adopted a modern design approach with a strong geometry throughout the centre with all the different elements combining to create a rhythmical narrative that is both fresh and dynamic and really stands this centre apart.

“Creating a strong experience for the customer is very much at the heart of current retail thinking so there was also a major intervention in the centre’s food offer where transformed the lay out from a single space to a fragmented space with a range of different offers for dining, with public and private areas that integrate from the inside to the upgraded outside areas.”

Sambil is one of the largest retail groups in Latin America and Jorge said the new centre represented a growing trend of investment from that region into Spain.

He said: “Spain has been an attractive international investment opportunity in recent years with a growing economy and well-priced assets and with the obvious links with Latin America in terms of language and culture, we are now seeing and more operators looking at the potential that Spain offers.

“As well as working with Sambil, we are also currently working on a number of projects with Brazilian group Armorica as well as with international brands such as Carrefour for whom we have recently delivered major schemes in Spain and Latin America.”  


Malaysian shopping centre opens to the public by Broadway Malyan

A major new retail destination where Broadway Malyan provided a complete design service from architectural concept through to branding has been opened to the public.

The MyTOWN shopping centre in the Jalan Cochrane district of Kuala Lumpur is anchored by the biggest Ikea in Malaysia with an overall NLA of 1.6m sq ft across five levels of retail, leisure and entertainment.

The shopping centre, which will be connected to the city centre via a new MRT station when completed in summer 2017, has been jointly developed by Boustead Holdings Berhad and Ikano Pte Ltd.

Broadway Malyan provided an integrated brand led design approach to the project that saw the practice’s Singapore studio create the initial branding for the scheme which informed the overall architecture and the interior design.

The shopping centre provides more than 400 retail units with F&B throughout including outdoor terraces on the upper levels as well as a dedicated event space in front of the building leading to an outdoor sunken garden with amphitheatre seating.

Ernesto Zabarte, who has led the project for Broadway Malyan, said the holistic approach to delivering the MyTOWN scheme had provided a unique continuity to the design process and was a positive reflection of the diversity of skills within the practice.

He said: “This has been an incredibly exciting project where we have literally been able to start with a completely blank canvas and create a narrative with the client that has evolved into a retail destination that sets a new benchmark for Kuala Lumpur.

“Being a family shopping centre, it was important that the design appealed to every visitor and was simple, contemporary and welcoming so we proposed a simple but elegant design in terms of the massing and façade which is made up of multi hues of metallic champagne-coloured metal.

“Internally we used a natural palette of materials and colours with an accent of bright colours and dynamic visuals of text which ties in with the MyTOWN brand and colours that are introduced in various places in the scheme such as in the way-finding.”


£400m Belfast regeneration project unveiled by Broadway Malyan

A major scheme to regenerate a 16 acre site alongside the River Lagan in the heart of Belfast has been unveiled by Broadway Malyan.

The Sirocco Quays project will create a new ‘river-front district’ along nearly 300m of the Lagan with 69,000 sqm of contemporary office space, 815 new homes and a major leisure offer including a hotel, restaurants, cafes and local retail space.

The proposals will regenerate the former Sirocco Engineering Works on the edge of Belfast’s city centre and will also include a new footbridge across the Lagan, creating a dramatic new pedestrian access to the city from the east Bank

The project is being developed by Swinford (Sirroco) Ltd, a joint venture between St Francis Group, Graftongate and Gulf Resources Development and Investment (GRDI) with Broadway Malyan providing architecture, masterplanning and urban design. An outline application will be submitted later this year with detailed applications following shortly afterwards.

Hugo Fitzgerald, who is leading the project out of Broadway Malyan’s Birmingham studio, said the development hopes to bring a completely new offer to the city and will play a key part in reconnecting the communities on the east side of the Lagan to the Northern Irish capital.

He said: “Belfast has enjoyed a fantastic renaissance in recent years and this is a real vote of confidence from Swinford who plan to build on this with the creation of a high quality mixed use development that engages with the river and the wider city beyond.

“The vision for the site is to create a real sense of place with community, vibrancy and connection that comes from considered high quality urban planning, architecture and public realm. Through simply extending the existing city grid to the East Bank, the area will read as a new quarter within the city centre offering one of the most attractive areas of the city to live and work.

“The project will also play a vital role in reconnecting this disjoined part of the city via a new pedestrian footbridge, providing an attractive new route to the city centre for communities such as the Short Strand and Bridge End.”

Philip Silk, Director of Swinford (Sirocco) Ltd, added: “Sirocco Quays will establish new benchmarks for quality across the office and residential space, and bring the first truly international branded hotel to Belfast.

“We are creating new construction jobs, and will build modern workspace for approximately 11.5 per cent of the 46,000 new jobs Belfast City Council is seeking to create by 2035. We are part of Belfast Agenda and want to contribute to the life, economy and community of the city

“We have recognised the unmatched opportunity to extend and complement the traditional centre of Belfast, and bring the opposite bank of the River Lagan back into the life of the city. This is a site of significant importance to the continuing regeneration of both the city centre and East Belfast, and to the continued growth of Northern Ireland’s economy.”

Swinford Ltd will now undertake a minimum 12 weeks of pre-application community consultation, including three public exhibitions, before submitting a planning application to Belfast City Council. The former industrial site, now derelict brownfield, was purchased by Swinford in August 2016 with completion in January this year.  It was once the site of the world’s largest rope works, set up by Samuel Davidson in 1881.


London residential scheme complete by Broadway Malyan

A six-block residential project in west London designed by a team led by Stuart Bertie in Broadway Malyan’s Weybridge studio has been completed.

The School Yard in Wandsworth consists of 139 one, two and three bedroom apartments and was developed by London and Quadrant after Broadway Malyan originally submitted the scheme for planning on behalf of Wandsworth Borough Council and Lambert Smith Hampton.

The development, which is less than half a mile from Clapham Junction, is on the site of a former Victorian school and previously included four school buildings and a playground that was being used as a council car park.

Stuart said the development sat within a long established residential area and the site offered an opportunity to create a simple but elegant residential scheme that responded to the existing urban landscape and context.

He said: “The six buildings have been designed as a family with the architecture offering a consistency across the site with the building heights, positioning and massing respecting the prevailing urban grain.

“Simplicity is key to the design with the repeated urban blocks and courtyards created by their placement providing a sense of clarity and legibility as well as maximising the number of duel aspect apartments.

“The façade is based on a rational grid, which creates an order and rhythm that is reinforced through the position of the windows, inset balconies and doors and this is supported by a minimal palette of London brick, stabilised timber and an elegant glazing system that creates strong clear lines throughout the development.”

“There is also a strong landscape element to the scheme that provides a dynamic landscape that not only gives interesting views from the residential buildings but also create a valuable public realm and amenity for those living in the development.”


Indonesian office project launched by Broadway Malyan

A new office building designed by Broadway Malyan has completed in Jakarta, offering high quality business space in the city.

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Top hotel chain commissions Broadway Malyan for upgrade project by Broadway Malyan

Broadway Malyan has been appointed by the Minor Group to remodel three of its best known hotels in Portugal.

The Minor Group, which operates the Anantara, Tivoli and Avani brands, operates more than 150 hotels globally and has announced plans to grow its portfolio to 200.

The group is also investing in its existing properties and Broadway Malyan has been commissioned to transform the 4-star Tivoli Jardim and 5-star Tivoli Lisboa hotels in Lisbon and the Tivoli Carvoeiro in the Algarve, which is being upgraded from 4 to 5-star.

The Tivoli Jardim is a 4-star hotel in the heart of Lisbon which is set to be rebranded as the group’s first Avani hotel in Portugal and Lisbon studio director Margarida Caldeira, who is also chair of Broadway Malyan’s EMEA board, said the design approach needed to reflect the new brand.

She said: “The refurbishment will include a new modern lobby with extensive wooden finishes and contemporary furniture to create a very current and sophisticated space. The hotel’s façade will also be modified to reflect the essence of Avani’s upmarket brand.

“We are also currently remodelling the famous Tivoli Lisboa hotel, the group’s flagship 5-star property in the centre of Lisbon. This intervention includes the hotel lobby, the restaurant, the spa, the gym, the skybar and the hotel’s 250 bedrooms. Our approach is very much about refreshing hotel’s existing classic style but accentuating this with a series of contemporary interventions and installations.

“The Tivoli Carvoeiro sits on a beautiful stretch of the Algarve this transformational project will upgrade the hotel from a 4-star to a 5-star hotel so our design approach has been to create a luxurious environment while reinforcing the hotel’s relationship with the stunning coastline on which its sits.

“The hotel is being completely remodelled with a new entrance that creates a real sense of arrival, a new sky bar, restaurant and Anatara Spa as well as a major overhaul of the guest rooms to create an unrivalled visitor experience.

“Hospitality has been a mainstay of the Iberian economy even during the most challenging of times so it is fantastic to see Minor Group responding to the positive economic climate with this strategic investment in their Portuguese portfolio.

“Hospitality is currently one of our key growth sectors with projects in the Middles East, Asia and Europe and we are able to share that experience across our studios and bring considerable experience as well as the latest thinking from around the globe to these three exciting commissions.”

All three projects are set to be complete in 2017.   


Art Deco town hall set for university transformation by Broadway Malyan

Broadway Malyan has been commissioned to breathe new life into an east London town hall as part of Coventry University’s ambitious expansion plans.

The practice will substantially refurbish the stunning grade II listed Civic Centre in Dagenham to create Coventry University Group’s newest campus, CU London, which will cater for up to 3,000 students.

The Art Deco building was originally designed by Architect E. Berry Webber and constructed in 1936 as part of a major civic development programme in London during the inter-war years.

The building is built in Mulberry brick but boasts a Portland stone portico with four slim columns leading into a dramatic three storey entrance hall which includes marble columns, two staircases and art deco ceiling paintings.

The building underwent significant restoration in 2003 to restore much of its original stonework and paint colours and the latest project will protect and enhance many of the building’s key aspects including its dramatic entrance hall and atrium and council chamber.

Work on the project is set to begin this month after it was approved by planners, and Broadway Malyan director Ben Somner, who is leading the project, said the scheme was unique in the higher education sector.

He said: “Coventry University’s vision for this facility is to challenge conventional thinking around the organisation of study so our approach has been to combine the latest in pedagogic thinking while also creating a campus that is outward facing and open to use by the local community.

“A substantial element of the project will be to remodel and refurbish the former council offices in the building’s two wings to create a series of high quality learning spaces which benefit from fantastic views across the site’s landscaped grounds and the adjacent Central Park.

“We will also be creating a new café for both university and community use as well as introducing a new learning resource centre that will incorporate the existing council chamber, which will continue to be used by the local authority for meetings in the future.

“This building is a beautiful example of the architecture of its time and the attention to detail within the three-storey entrance hall particularly is breath-taking and we are excited to have the opportunity to be part of a project that will ensure the long term future of this historically important building.”

Based upon a high-quality and low-cost career focused model of higher education pioneered by the University through its CU Coventry model, CU London will offer lower fees, lower entry requirements and more flexible learning options.

John Dishman, chief executive officer and director of CU Coventry, added: “This is a key project for the Coventry University Group and we are working closely with Barking and Dagenham Council to create a facility that not only protects the future of this fantastic building but supports their growth aspirations.

“It will also enable local people to access a more affordable and flexible further education.”

Further information about CU London can be found at


Time for architects to embrace the realities of digital Darwinism by Broadway Malyan

By John Arnott, Associate Director of BIM and Digital Design

The world of architecture has long been an analogue environment.

While the role has evolved through the ages from the artisan to the professional, the fundamental mind-set of the architect has probably changed little since the days when Imhotep was designing the Step Pyramid almost four millennia ago.

While every architect and practice may frame it in a different way, ultimately their focus is on designing places and spaces that range between the functional and the beautiful and if done well, they will be both.

So with all this in mind it is little wonder that the sector is still lagging behind when it comes to embracing and adopting Building Information Management (BIM) and all the opportunities it presents.

It is now almost a decade since the concept of BIM was first mooted by the New Labour government and five years since it was introduced as a requirement by the coalition government in an attempt to improve efficiency around public sector procurement.

Since then it has not been short of profile – barely a week goes by without new guidance, improved software or general comment on the whys and wherefores from across the industry but at best it remains a process only used where stipulated in the tender process and at worst it is something considered by many to be someone else’s job.

As the debate about the importance of BIM to the future of architecture has raged, we have lost sight of the bigger picture. Many people have taken to thinking BIM is simply to do with modelling in 3D software and delivering it via some advanced online tools when in fact it could be, and should be, so much more.

There are three distinct tiers to successful BIM delivery, each independent of each other but intrinsically linked in a manner that is not always obvious: how we work in a project, how we work as a business and how we interact with others.

A successful BIM culture where the process is understood by all and data and software are standard across industry has an obvious payback, not just in efficiency but also in breaking down the information silos that have historically existed between the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.

This process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through design and manufacture to service and disposal is well documented and understood in other industries such as aerospace or manufacturing – they already integrate people, data, processes and business systems and provide an information backbone that runs through their organisation.

It is hard to know quite why our sector has taken so long to embrace BIM, I suspect a combination of apathy, fear and a general attitude that if it’s not broke then why fix it. And there remains much to do to persuade architects that BIM will help, not hinder, their creativity – a Hays survey of Australian architects covering the first quarter of 2017 highlighted a focus on BIM skills over design as their main concern.

Ultimately, it will be an evolution not a revolution that finally creates a BIM culture within practices. While steady advances will continue to be made, in many ways it will be the architects of Generation Y - who are immersed in social media, mobile, wearables and the Internet of Things - that will fully embrace a new generation of business models and new methods of working.

With this in mind it is crucial that BIM becomes a fundamental part of the architectural educational process and that students are immersed in the concept before they finish their studies, so events like the BIMinBirmingham conference being held by Birmingham City University and backed by RIBA and a number of local, national and international practices, are timely and welcome.

As RIBA admitted last year “..there is still much work to do and the journey continues. For BIM to realise its transformative potential, investment and change is needed across the sector.”

Or to put it more bluntly – this is a time of digital Darwinism where technology and society are evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt. The stage is set for a new generation of business models charging behind a mantra of adapt or die.

  *John is speaking on January 25 at BIMinBirmingham at Birmingham City University


First stage of Birmingham public realm project complete by Broadway Malyan

The first potential interventions in a major project to transform the city environment around Birmingham’s business district have been identified following the completion of a public realm masterplan.

The aim of the multi-stage project being designed by Broadway Malyan is to deliver more comfort for pedestrians and cyclists with a public realm that is able to host a variety of activities, add value for tenants and attract further investment.

Broadway Malyan has now completed a public realm framework across the whole Snow Hill area, which stretches from Steelhouse Lane to Victoria Square, and identified six project areas that will now go forward for detailed design development.

The six areas that have been identified are Colmore Row, the junction of Colmore Row and Newhall Street, Cornwall Street, the south end of Church Street towards Colmore Row, Barwick Street and Steelhouse Square outside Colmore Plaza at the top of Steelhouse Lane.

Broadway Malyan director Danny Crump, who is leading the professional delivery team that also includes SYSTRA, WYG and Hoare Lea, said the completion of the public realm masterplan laid down an important framework that established street typologies that could be implemented across the study area.

He said: “Each of these areas have their own character and characteristics with different needs and opportunities to improve the public realm and having completed the strategic plan we are now able to develop each area further and refine concepts while adhering to a consistent set of design principles.

“We are looking at initiatives that will completely reimagine the Snow Hill area by “detuning” the highway character, moving away from vehicle dominance and putting pedestrians and cyclists first and at its heart.

“Ultimately this will include the introduction of some new public spaces and pedestrian priority areas, new green infrastructure, pocket parks, new street furniture and general decluttering as well as encouraging businesses to spill out and occupy a more vibrant streetscene, helping to add value to the Snow Hill Area while creating a more interesting and energetic street environment.”


Mike Mounfield, projects manager at Colmore BID, added: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically improve the experience of people who work, live and visit the Colmore area.  We are currently building a coalition of property owners interested in supplementing the programme funding to make sure all these transformational projects go ahead.”

Councillor John Clancy, leader of Birmingham city council, said: “I’ll be watching with interest the regeneration of the area around Snow Hill and Colmore Row.

Not only is this the beating heart of Birmingham’s business district, it is also an important gateway into the city centre where improvements to the public realm are long overdue. The changes planned will help to revitalise Snow Hill making it easier to attract inward investment, creating jobs and inclusive economic growth.”

The detail design stage of the project is likely to take up to ten months with work potentially starting on the first project in late 2017.

An early delivery phase of the £10m project, which is being funded by Birmingham LEP’s Growth Fund subject to a full business case following an application by Birmingham City Council and Colmore BID, will see significant improvements to the square outside Snow Hill Station including traffic calming, new street furniture and tree planting alongside the development of a new underground restaurant.


Garden villages – a key part of the jigsaw by Broadway Malyan

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By Jeff Nottage

There is no quick fix to the UK’s housing crisis.

The last decade has seen myriad initiatives come – and often go – without any real dent being made in the housing shortfall.

Development on the scale necessary to achieve the predicted 200,000 new homes needed every year to fulfil the UK’s housing needs can only be achieved through bold and decisive policy making and strong political support. The move towards a localism agenda in recent years has often acted to stifle rather than energise the drive for more housing development where it is most needed.

Over the last 10 years, co-ordinated regional spatial planning has been replaced with a “bottom-up” approach where local planning authorities work, nearly always, within their own boundaries to achieve (or often not) their housing targets. As a result, large-scale, co-ordinated and coherent strategic development proposals, such as new settlements, have stalled.

Ensuring housing is developed where it is most needed and supported by the necessary infrastructure rather than where it is most convenient is absolutely critical if it is to support the UK’s long term economic well-being.   

Developing a range of housing sites – be they brownfield, greenfield or within the Green Belt – will all have an important part to play in tackling the housing crisis and that is why the Government’s recent announcement on Garden Villages has to be welcomed as an important piece in the housebuilding jigsaw.

Broadway Malyan has been involved in masterplanning two of the 14 Garden Village sites identified this week by the Government – Dunton Hills in Essex and Longcross in Surrey – and both settlements have the potential to have a substantial and positive impact in terms of delivering quality, liveable and highly sustainable new communities. Broadway Malyan has also been involved in masterplanning a significant part of the new Hertfordshire-Essex Garden Town.

The majority of the sites identified, which range from Cumbria to Cornwall, are currently on greenfield or Green Belt land so there will be no lack of dissenting voices as the settlements move through the planning process, but Government support for the sites should not be underestimated.

All local authorities were tasked with identifying sites that had the potential to become Garden Villages so there has already been a significant process to determine general suitability and commercial viability to arrive at this stage. With a supportive Secretary of State onside, there is much to be optimistic about in terms of delivering these new settlements within a realistic timeframe.

The failure of New Labour’s Eco-Towns initiative and the lack of traction in progressing new Garden Cities such as Ebbsfleet should not detract from the potential of Garden Villages, which offer development on a much more manageable scale with tangible results potentially within years rather than decades.

This initiative should not, however, be about trying to recreate the original Garden Cities such as Letchworth or Welwyn on a smaller scale, or twee rural villages in the middle of the countryside.  Instead, it should be about developing new communities with easy access to employment in a well-planned and contemporary environment that addresses the needs and aspirations of the UK in the 21st Century.

While Garden Villages will still only deliver a fraction of the UK’s overall needs, there is more chance than ever that these may actually happen.


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