Glenn Howells City Locks project places students at the heart of key Birmingham regeneration area

Glenn Howells Architects has announced planning permission for the new student accommodation project, City Locks for specialist student housing provider, Alumno Developments. The project will be located along the canal’s edge in Birmingham’s Eastside, a stone’s throw from the site of the proposed HS2 terminus, and the recently opened, award-winning £12m Eastside City park.

The 625-bed scheme will provide generous well-lit spaces, organised around accessible communal areas. The entrance to the entire development will be placed in the central building, creating a legible ‘heart’ within the plot and a key social space to facilitate student life. A pair of elevated courtyards to the west side of the building mediates the difference in height between the canal side and the communal upper-ground floor of the building. These spaces will form a natural break out area and a hub of social activity. Glenn Howells Architects have worked closely with Landscape Architects McGregor Smith to ensure the project seamlessly addresses the specific local contexts of the canal. The materials palette has been carefully selected to ensure that the project is in keeping with the surrounding heritage of the built environment and conveys high-quality and permanence.

The gentle crescent expressed in the building’s form compliments the curvature of the canal while the elegant tower rising above the shoulder creates a confident, legible marker for this emerging piece of the city.

Another innovative aspect to this project is the intent to create ‘incubator’ spaces at ground level where small, independent enterprise units will be encouraged to operate. These activities will have the advantage of direct access to students, promoting creative and innovative opportunities, and supporting the dynamic curriculum of Birmingham City University. .

The City Locks student housing will create further, much-needed regeneration to this part of Birmingham, complementing its growth as a key economic centre in Britain.

Dav Bansal, Director at Glenn Howells Architects:

“We are very proud to be involved in reinstating the quality principles of student housing in the UK through this exemplary scheme, which will also form an integral part of the vision for Birmingham’s Eastside regeneration.”

David Campbell, Managing Director at Alumno:

“We are delighted to be working with Glenn Howells architects on this landmark project, which further cements the Alumno objective of matching good quality design with affordability, Eastside Locks is one of the largest regeneration projects in the country and the student accommodation developments will kick start the further exiting developments set to emerge on the site.”

Planning was announced on 20 March and the project should go on site in late 2014.