Parkside Building - Birmingham City University

Ramboll. Parkside Building, Birmingham City University. Image: Martine Hamilton Knight Photography

Ramboll. Parkside Building, Birmingham City University. Image: Martine Hamilton Knight Photography

The Parkside Building brings together Birmingham City University’s School of Media and Birmingham’s Institute of Art & Design (BIAD) which have been merged to form the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media (ADM). Founded in 1843, Birmingham’s Institute of Art & Design (BIAD) is one of the most established and significant centres for jewellery, art, design, and architecture in the UK.

Facilities in the five storey 18,310m² state-of-the art building include five TV studios, seven radio studios and post-production suites. Classroom teaching facilities are located in the adjacent Millennium Point building that is connected to the Parkside Building via a bridge link, providing the University the opportunity to converge some of the student support facilities.

To encourage collaboration in shared academic areas, the building provides students and staff from different courses the opportunity to meet and exchange thoughts and ideas. A central circulation stair in the atrium requires students to move through a series of shared spaces before entering their department and a ‘collision space’ boosts the alliance between staff and students, creating a greater campus environment.

The Parkside Building is part of BCU’s City Centre Campus expansion and is a key component of the planned regeneration of Birmingham’s Eastside which is an integral part of Birmingham’s overall development strategy outlined in the Big City Plan. The complexity and significance of the building was recognised by a number of award wins in 2013, including; West Midlands Property Sustainability Award and Highly Commended recognition, IStructE Midlands Award and runner-up for the Facilities Project award at The Guardian University Awards.

Structural Design

The main structural frame comprises insitu concrete, with the structural form being governed by the requirement to create large studio and theatre spaces at the lower level, with the two central studios extending through two levels to provide clear 8m high spaces. To achieve this transfer beams were provided at first and second floor levels to allow a more efficient column grid to be adopted for the levels above.

Key structural challenges for the construction team included consideration of how to build a 6.5m deep basement within a restricted site, how to build acoustically isolated studio structures whilst progressing the construction of the main structural frame, and how to build a link to the existing Millennium Point building whilst it remained in use. Ramboll worked closely with the main contractor and subcontractors to help resolve programme-critical issues by incorporating appropriate design enhancements.

Acoustically Isolated Studios

The acoustically isolated studio structures vary in size and complexity and include two large steel-framed structures supporting a concrete ‘lid’ and blockwork walls which form the inner box of a "box-in-box" structure. The steel frames are up to 8m in height and supported off perimeter concrete beams which are cast on acoustic isolators. The floors within the studios are also isolated in a variety of ways including the use of suspended concrete decks jacked up on rubber pads to further minimise noise and vibration

Basement Construction

A review of the basement wall construction included assessment of various options, including contiguous piled walls and sacrificial sheet piles to form the outer face of the concrete walls. The close proximity of Cardigan Street to the east, a multi-storey car park to the north, Millennium Point to the west and the New City Park to the south meant that there was very limited working space within the site curtilage particularly along the Cardigan Street frontage. The final solution was to install removable sheet piles which were successfully removed for reuse after completion of the lower levels of structure.

Millennium Point Link Bridge

The 12-metre wide two storey structure linking the Parkside Building to Millennium Point contains open plan space across the whole of both levels. To avoid any significant load being applied to the existing Millennium Point building the new structure was designed to cantilever past a central pier built in front of the existing external retaining wall that separates the Millennium Point service area from the rear access roadway.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

The use of BIM was a clearly defined client requirement from the inception of the project; specifically, BCU required the BIM data to be available for use during the operation of the building in order to allow the efficient management of the facility during the life of the building.  The incorporation of the client’s BIM requirements led to numerous instances of added value being realised throughout the project including:

  • A significant reduction in clashes on site.  Clash detection techniques were used on the combined models from early stages of the project (RIBA Stage C) through to the completion of the production information, virtually eliminating clashes on site.  The combined models initially comprised Architectural, Structural Engineering and Building Services models. These were expanded during the construction phase to incorporate sub-contractor models which were also coordinated to manage clashes. 
  • Improved construction planning.  The coordinated model was used for construction planning through the incorporation of phasing and sequencing of the works and in addition to ensuring improved efficiency on site through enhanced coordination of sub-contractor elements. 

Post completion, the University has benefited from improved efficiency in terms of the management of Parkside Building through the use of BIM.  The model was developed with a focus on ensuring that the client’s end use of the BIM data was incorporated into the model. The coordinated models have been mapped and embedded with the required data to enable the client to efficiently carry out Facilities Management operations and manage the facility during the life of the building.


240 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NW
United Kingdom
Tel:+44 20 7631 5291

Company registration

Company registration

Ramboll UK Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Company registration no. 03659970. Registered office: 240 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NW

Other sites

Other sites