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Brindleyplace, Birmingham | by Beardy Vulcan
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Brindleyplace, Birmingham

Brindleyplace is a large mixed-use canalside development, in the Westside district of Birmingham. It is often written erroneously as Brindley Place, the name of the street (in turn named after the 18th century canal engineer James Brindley) around which it is built. It was developed by Argent Group PLC from 1993 onwards. In addition to shops, bars and restaurants, Brindleyplace is home to the National Sea Life Centre, Royal Bank of Scotland, Orion Media, Ikon Gallery of art and a Hilton Garden Inn. The site covers 17 acres (69,000 m²) of mixed-use redevelopment on a grand scale - the UK's largest such project. The Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal, seen here, separates Brindleyplace from the International Convention Centre on the opposite side, although there are linking fairy lit bridges. The National Indoor Arena (further up the canal), Old Turn Junction and bustling bars of Broad Street are nearby and it is easily accessible and within walking distance of the main bus and train routes.


The area occupied by Brindleyplace was, at the height of Birmingham's industrial past, the site of factories, however, by the 1970s as Britain's manufacturing went into decline, the factories closed down and the buildings lay derelict for many years.


Birmingham City Council's aim was to create an environment of water features, walkways and new office and leisure buildings, that would open out onto this adjacent canal. The scheme was assembled by the council in the 1980s. The council were also seeing success with the construction of the International Convention Centre with the Symphony Hall, and the National Indoor Arena. A development brief was drawn up, identifying the site as an area to attract people to compliment the convention centre.


Initial proposals were drawn up by Merlin, who teamed with developers Shearwater. However, Merlin pulled out of the scheme and were replaced by Rosehaugh. Rosehaugh had paid £26 million for the site in 1990. Rosehaugh revised Merlin's retail-led scheme to include more office space and a residential element. By 1992, a detailed set of proposals which included retailing and restaurants with a central square had been agreed. However, Rosehaugh went into receivership by the end of the year. Argent took over the scheme, paying £3 million to the receivers. Argent slightly amended the plans by separating the residential element from the rest of the scheme and commencing construction of the Water's Edge first, along with an office building.


By 1995, when Argent refinanced the scheme, the land value was back over £25 million. The Water's Edge was trading successfully and the housing element, Symphony Court, had sold all of its units. The price for the average family house in the scheme was over £200,000. Short term finance was supplied by Hypobank.


The BCN Main Line, or Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line describes the evolving route of the Birmingham Canal between Birmingham and Wolverhampton in England.


The name Main Line was used to distinguish the main Birmingham to Wolverhampton route from the many other canals and branches built or acquired by the Birmingham Canal Navigations company.


The International Convention Centre opposite (abbreviated to ICC) is a major conference venue. The centre includes Symphony Hall and it faces Centenary Square. The building has this other entrance leading to the canals of Birmingham.


The building was designed by Percy Thomas Partnership and Renton Howard Wood Levin. The foundation stone was laid by Jacques Delors as a start of another 4 years and 5 months of construction. In all, over 1,500 workers helped construct the building. Over 60,000 cubic metres of concrete were used. The site was opened on 12 June 1991 by Queen Elizabeth II. Funds of £49.7 million were provided by the European Council. The total cost of construction was £200 million.


It is on the site of the Prince of Wales Theatre and Bingley Hall, the world's first purpose-built exhibition hall, opened in 1850. Also on the site were numerous houses fronting King Edward's Place as well as a brewery and inn. On the eastern side of this was King Alfreds Place which was also fronted by houses and a hotel. A listed Victorian cast iron urinal was removed before construction began, on condition that it be re-erected. Although it was taken to Tyseley Locomotive Works, it has never been restored.


The building was the focal point for the G8 summit meeting of world leaders in 1998.


On a specified date in August, the building is used by companies, organisations and/ or individuals as part of "Discovery Day" which features events co-ordinated all over the city. In 2004, an area was used as an indoor country fair. The fair featured a Ferris wheel and small rides. In spring 2008, the hall hosted its first party political conference, for the Labour Party.


The façade of the building is covered in blue tinted windows and white stone cladding. The entrance is adorned by a neon sculpture, by Ron Hasledon, named "Birdlife" which hangs above it. The entrance is used as a small performance area and small protests are sometimes held there. The south side of the building features a link bridge to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. When the pre-fabricated connecting bridge was delivered, it was found to be too short, as the plans for the hotel had been modified, moving it away from the ICC slightly, but the bridge makers had not been informed.


Inside the building, numerous connecting bridges and walkways line the atrium overhead connecting the eleven halls. The ICC has a total capacity of 8,000 delegates. The largest hall, "Hall Three" can hold up to 3,000 delegates when fully utilising its 3,000m2 space.


Inside there is a branch of the Castle Fine Art which sells original paintings and prints. There is a souvenir shop as well as the box office for tickets for both Symphony Hall and other local theatres.

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Taken on March 8, 2013