Plans for a striking new Aston University building dubbed “fantastic” following a public consultation are set for approval.
The “landmark” lantern-style ten-storey building would be used for learning and office space – and its distinctive tiered design has previously piqued the interest of readers.
Following the unveiling of plans by the university earlier this year, the proposals were hailed as “stunning” by some of those commenting online.
Others compared it to a ” wonky wedding cake “, “Hula Hoops” and “three car air filters stacked on the top of each other”.
Now, the designs by HawkinsBrown, Hoare Lee, Price & Myers and Exterior Architecture (ExA) are recommended for approval at next week’s Birmingham City Council planning committee meeting.
The building at Aston Street would be partly open to the public with café included on the ground floor.
The site – known as Gosta Green – currently hosts the Tipping Triangles fountain by Angela Conner which is proposed to be moved to another part of the campus.
One letter of support was received following a public consultation. The report to councillors states: “The comments submitted refer to a fantastic proposal, a well-designed piece of architecture with excellent looking landscaping.
“Perhaps Aston University can work with BMAG’s [Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s] collections centre to provide a new home for some of the city’s treasures that are not currently on public display, incorporating something into the landscaping or displaying something in the arcade to really ground the new building in the identity of the place.”
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The Civic Society were similarly positive about the scheme, stating the building would not cause significant harm to nearby listed buildings.
These are the former West Midlands Fire Station HQ at Lancaster Circus the former City of Birmingham Swimming Pool on Woodcock Street – now Aston University Sports Centre.
Adding it was important the fountain remains in the public domain, the society said: “The university are to be commended on commissioning an innovative building.”
There was some ambiguity in the report around the building’s green credentials.
The report states the university chose to follow the 5 Capitals model for sustainability rather than the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).
The building cannot be guaranteed to meet the criteria for a BREEAM rating of “very good”, the report states – despite non-residential buildings of above 1,000 square metre floorspace being required to meet “excellent” criteria under Birmingham’s planning policies.
But a planning officer noted: “On reflection it is considered that sustainability is upmost in the applicants’ design of the building and whilst it would not achieve the required BREEAM standard the applicants have been able to fully explain and justify how the proposals would comply with the essence of the [planning policy in question].”
The officer adds the proposals include “some passive design principles” such as “high levels of insulation/reduced air permeability”.
Concluding the plans should be approved, the officer stated: “Aston University is an asset to the city and through its masterplan it is embarking on its most radical estates strategy for over ten years, which will significantly change the university campus.
“The proposed building would deliver the next phase of this masterplan, provide a gateway to the campus at the same time as a new landmark within the city centre.”
The planning committee meeting can be viewed from 11am on August 5 via the city council’s committee meetings YouTube channel.
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