The £70 million restoration and expansion of a historic Birmingham building has reached a key landmark, as its iconic façade was unveiled for the first time in 15 months.
Birmingham’s locallylisted Belmont Works has had the scaffolding removed for the first time since regeneration work began in February 2020, as its transformation continues into the new home for Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse.
Work began on transforming the120-year-old building in early 2020, and construction firm Bowmer + Kirkland have worked hard to reach this milestone despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This achievement was reached as restoration on the façade, which has been a feature of the city’s Eastside since 1899, hit a key point where scaffolding is no longer required.
The building on Cardigan Street in Birmingham’s Eastside, had stood derelict since being gutted by a fire in 2007.
But new images show how Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse is giving the former bicycle factory a new lease of life whilst retaining its historic identity asa significant part of the city’s heritage.
Once complete STEAMhouse will serve as a collaborative space for businesses, academics and creative partners to work together on new business ideas, concepts and creations bringing together traditional technical disciplines, alongside art and design.
University leaders have also rubber stamped plans for part of the building to form a new home for its School of Computing and Digital Technology.
STEAMhouse provides access to a range of facilities and teaching spaces for students from within the School from the start of the 2022 academic year, whilst learners from across the University will also be able to access its spaces and facilities and collaborate with the building’s users.
Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Reaching this milestone is not just a real landmark for the development of our STEAMhouse project, but also for the changing landscape of our city’s Eastside.
“As the region enters its recovery from the impact of the last 18 months, projects like STEAMhouse are essential to ensuring we provide a platform for new business, the creation of jobs and the generation of growth.
“Through the innovation, creativity and ingenuity which comes with embedding the arts with traditional technical subjects we can apply a new approach to economic growth and students from across the University thatwill only benefit from collaborating with industry.”
Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has helped fund the project through £1 million of Local Growth Funding and £2.4 million Enterprise Zone funding. £14 million from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, also managed by the GBSLEP, has been invested into the project.
STEAMhouse is set to officially open its doors in 2022, and will first welcome businesses to the premises, as well as students looking to work on industry projects.
It will be a unique centre combining technical Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths disciplines with the Arts (STEAM) to boost innovation.
The building will span five floors giving a home to new and existing STEAMhouse members who will benefit from business support, access to spaces, expertise and state-of-the-art equipment.
Tim Pile, Chair, GBSLEP chair commented: “In the last 10 years, we have supported the transformation of derelict and unused buildings into spaces that can be used by our communities and businesses. This is a critical part of our mission to drive inclusive growth across our region through our ‘triple helix’ structure that brings together the public, private and academic sectors.
“The renovation of Belmont Works highlights how £1 million from our Local Growth Fund grant and £2.4 million Enterprise Zone investment is making a difference. STEAMhouse will be a major hub for learners, academics, SMEs and creatives who will drive innovation whilst creating new jobs and growing our local economy.”
Bowmer + Kirkland Regional Director, Steve Chambers, said: “It is wonderful to be able to unveil the building and reveal the work that has been done to restore the façade. This marks a significant milestone in the delivery of STEAMhouse and is testament to the hard work, dedication and teamwork by everyone involved through a very challenging 18 months.”
Professor Hanifa Shah, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, said: “The redevelopment of our STEAMhouse facility is not just a fantastic step for the city’s business, artistic and innovation communities but will have major benefits for our students.
“Becoming the new home for School of Computing and Digital Technology, this new building will allow our students to take up their studies in a building closely linked to the heritage of our city and which will be a real landmark in the Learning Quarter.
“The array of new facilities and state-of-the-art equipment available will have a transformative impact not just for those in our Faculty, but students right across the University.”
To find out more information about STEAMhouse, or to request a brochure please visit: https://steamhouse.org.uk/space/