Generating investment of £700m into the city of Birmingham and delivering 1.74m sq ft of premium office accommodation, Paradise is one of the UK’s most significant commercial development projects outside of London. The site was previously home to the Birmingham Central Library, which overpowered the surrounding civic buildings including Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Baskerville House. It was seen as a significant physical barrier between the City Centre and Brindley Place, including venues such as the International Convention Centre, the National Indoor Arena and the Repertory Theatre. The Paradise Phase One scheme enables the whole area to be pedestrianised, reconnecting the city’s civic and cultural centres and providing new high-quality commercial accommodation in the heart of the City.
Phase One Works
Ramboll was appointed as civil and structural engineer to deliver Phase One of the Paradise Development. The Phase One works commenced on site in January 2015 and comprise the demolition of Birmingham Central library, on-site enabling works, transformation of the new public realm areas connecting Victoria Square and Centenary Square and the construction of a two-storey car park structure. The structure is designed to support the first two commercial office buildings; One Chamberlain Square designed by Eric Parry Architects and Two Chamberlain Square designed by Glenn Howells Architects.
Ramboll prepared structural designs for both Chamberlain Square office buildings to inform the design of the supporting podium structure. Ramboll also revised the original concept design, reconfiguring parking layouts and ramp positions to maximise the parking provision.
The superstructure for the two-storey car park is a hybrid frame of precast concrete columns, walls and floor slabs with all structural components being manufactured off-site.
Ramboll managed the interface between the superstructure and the foundations and ensured that the car park structural frame was fully compatible with the proposed structures for One and Two Chamberlain Square.
Maintaining existing tunnel network
The last major re-development of the site in the 1960s-70s left a network of tunnels and service ducts, including the A38 Queensway Tunnel and a mains services tunnel carrying critical infrastructure, as well as an abandoned bus station and pedestrian subway system. Ramboll designed the new foundations in the development to span over the existing tunnels. Rigorous approvals were required to demonstrate that the new development would not negatively influence the existing tunnel structures.
The works on the site involved the demolition of multi-storey reinforced concrete buildings. Ramboll provided specialist advice predicting the behaviour of the tunnel structures during and after demolition of the buildings directly above. Continuous tunnel monitoring during demolition confirmed that the movement of the tunnel structure did not exceed the allowable thresholds which allowed the dual-carriageway to remain safely operational throughout.