The Challenge

The development is at the rear of the building formerly known as Harborne Clock Tower, originally built as a school in 1881. One of Birmingham’s most celebrated architectural practices, Martin & Chamberlain, designed it and is Grade II listed.

EDG Property completed the first phase of the redevelopment of School Yard converting the grade II listed former school in Harborne into restaurants, coffee shops and a food school. The School Yard, a newly built apartment block, forms the second phase.

Client: EDG Property
Location : Birmingham
Sector: Residential
Architect : BPN Architects

EDG launched a competition to encourage creativity. Giving practices four weeks to submit designs. The entries were eventually shortlisted for four very different schemes. Proposals from Bryant Priest Newman, who previously worked on the Bloc Hotel, Ruskin Glass Centre and Rhubarb in the Custard Factory, were selected to see 13 apartments built at the rear of the main square.

The key challenges included dealing with the complexity of integrating MEP systems into a hybrid construction, including a combination of the concrete frame on the ground floor and lightweight timber frame for the upper floors, necessitating different engineering approaches.

Part of the brief was to ensure that the MEP designs allowed for effective use of natural light to complement the architectural design.

Designing MEP systems to maximise spatial efficiency within the residential units whilst ensuring occupant comfort is always a key focus in a development where space is limited.

The Solution

Our team engaged in early-stage collaboration with the structural engineers to design MEP systems that complement the hybrid construction, leveraging the strengths of both concrete and timber frames. BIM was used to visualise and coordinate systems efficiently.

The electrical team integrated lighting controls and daylight systems to optimise natural light usage while maintaining energy efficiency.

Adopting a holistic approach, the building fabric was specified with very low U-values and air tightness to a high level to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs. Highly efficient air source heat pumps provide heating and hot water, greatly reducing energy consumption.

The team worked closely with the architects to integrate MEP elements seamlessly into the architectural design. Utilising materials and finishes that complement the chosen aesthetic while appropriately concealing or showcasing MEP features.

There were clearly some seriously amazing entries. The competition encouraged people to be creative and we wanted some fresh eyes.

Neil Edginton, EDG Property

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