Categories: Case Studies
STEAMhouse is Faithful+Gould's latest project for Birmingham City University (BCU), and it’s a masterpiece of collaboration in both its purpose and delivery. The project team have delivered an inspired fit-out for this innovative facility, using our Professional Services Framework to help accelerate procurement.
The STEAMhouse innovation centre is the newest gem on BCU’s city centre campus. Having initially worked on the developer led shell and core contract, Faithful+Gould have recently delivered the Cat B fit-out following appointment by BCU through our specialist framework.
Using Lot 1 of our framework enabled BCU to access all the professional services they required on the scheme. Faithful+Gould acted as lead consultant during the project, providing multi-disciplinary services.
BCU’s fantastic innovation centre opened in October 2022, with the aim of encouraging the collaboration of the arts, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEAM) sectors.
Home to a multi-disciplinary community of entrepreneurs, businesses, academic researchers and students, STEAMhouse – located in the University’s City Centre campus – offers a wealth of support to companies of all sizes to boost growth through innovation to address commercial and societal challenges.
The new facility provides access to state-of-the-art technology, workspaces, event spaces and business advice for people across the region, supporting the progression of new ideas and creation of long-term opportunity. The STEAMhouse Incubator and Digital Innovation Hub provides opportunities for learning, growth and collaboration for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. The building also houses the School of Computing & Digital Technology.
The project is great news for Birmingham’s Eastside, as it regenerates the 120-year-old derelict locally-listed Belmont Works building, variously used for the manufacture of bicycle parts linen clothing, bedsteads, and pianos.
The building was badly damaged by fire in 2007 and lay derelict until it became part of the Eastside Locks development plan. An extension to the rear façade has provided much-needed upgrades and exciting new spaces, but many of the original features were retained.
STEAMhouse was originally delivered to varying degrees of fit-out, with initial shell & core and Category A fit-out allowing the university to adapt for its evolving needs and develop its strategic brief for the building’s future projects. An early Category B fit-out of the ground and first floors rendered the building operational in early 2022.
Faithful+Gould have completed the fit-out of academic, teaching and specialist spaces as well as the extensive Category B fit-out of further areas of the building. Complexities include the need to achieve a blend of commercial utilisation and teaching facilities, in a very different mix of uses from BCU’s traditional academic spaces. The challenge was to achieve adaptability via the most palatable best value cost outcomes.
The open and permeable space to be created presented technical and cost challenges with engineering/acoustic solutions and with navigation routes around the building.
During the base-build, their team developed a model capable of delivering a buildable business case solution which met the multi-stakeholder needs, satisfying the university, funding bodies and commercial users.
The flexible layouts and structural solution lent themselves to remodelling, reducing the risk of increased costs in the future. The fit-out design reflects those early precedents and the need for robust and reusable space at an affordable cost. Moveable walls and flexible furniture solutions are used to good effect, with the ITC/AV solutions designed to support adaptability.
Faithful's + Gould’s team has continued to support Birmingham City University with the development of its City Centre Campus, leading on a suite of technical services, and delivering some fantastic projects including Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Jonathan Oram, Head of Services at Pagabo, said: "We're delighted to have played our part in making the STEAMhouse project happen. Our Professional Services Framework is flexible and fully compliant for Birmingham City University, making their selection process much simpler. One of our trusted suppliers, Faithful+Gould, can be accessed through Lot 1 of this framework so they can continue to deliver outstanding projects like the STEAMhouse scheme."
Joanna Birch, Director at Birmingham City University, said: "The new STEAMhouse development is a building inspired by Arts and STEM, where the past meets the future, in which connectivity and collaboration are built into the heart of the design to support, empower and inspire every user to respond to a need in a superbly equipped, professional and inviting environment."
Mark Brain, Director & UK Higher Education Lead at Faithful+Gould, said: "We are privileged to have supported Birmingham City University’s aspirations for its estate. We have successfully delivered innovative, award-winning projects with STEAMhouse being the most recent - it provides an inspirational, collaborative setting which will continue to evolve and thrive."
Throughout Faithful+Gould's work on this fit-out, much of STEAMhouse has remained occupied, with city centre location logistics bringing further challenges. As the academic fit-out completes, Faithful+Gould are confident that this wonderful building will now be in an even better position to support and inspire every user—and they’re looking forward to delivering the third phase in 2023.
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