Birmingham college wins best public building award
15 October 2009
Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in Birmingham has won this year’s Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award.
The college’s principal, Elly Tobin, says that never in their wildest dreams would the students have expected such a wonderful building. ‘They have been given something special and they want to do well and give something back.’
Nicholas Hare Architects have created a beautiful, protected and calm environment that belies its tough inner-city surroundings. An imposing continuous curved façade fronts a busy roundabout, but a tree-lined entrance leads into a sequence of inner spaces, including a leafy courtyard and semi-circular garden with a pond, which leaves traffic and noise behind.
The impression throughout is of light and space, with glazed walls to the courtyards, double-height spaces and open plan breakout areas lit by atrium light wells.
Since it opened in September 2008, the new building has inspired more young people to study beyond the age of 16. The number of girls opting to study has increased and AS level results for the first-year intake are up on previous years.
The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, congratulated all those involved in the college’s design and construction, adding that: ‘Students, teachers and all those working and living around the college can take great pride in this first-class building.’
CABE’s chief executive Richard Simmons said Joseph Chamberlain College shows why investing in high quality is the best use of tax payers’ money: ‘Some say that, with tightened budgets, good design is a luxury that we can’t afford. But exactly the opposite is true.’
The college also offers the local community a library, adult learning and sports facilities.
Strong cooperation between the college, the designers and the construction team led by BAM Construction was key to its success. Together they have created a flexible and sustainable building that works for students, teachers and the local community.
The Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award recognises both high-quality design and effective delivery. It is part of the British Construction Industry Awards and is sponsored jointly by CABE, the Office of Government Commerce and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.