A University of Birmingham building once threatened with demolition has been shortlisted for a national retrofit architecture award.
The university’s ‘Old Gym’ at the Edgbaston campus was sensitively renovated by Birmingham-based Associated Architects to create a new lecture theatre and study spaces.
The project, which was completed earlier this year, has been recognised by the AJ Retrofit Awards 2019 in the Higher and Further Education category.
The annual AJ Retrofit Awards programme is one of the most highly regarded in UK architecture and celebrates the design, engineering and construction excellence that prolongs and improves the life of buildings.
Last year, the event’s main award was won by Ian Ritchie Architects’ reworking of the Royal Academy of Music.
Associated Architects will compete with university renovation projects in London, Edinburgh, Northampton, Leeds and Bristol in the Higher and Further Education category at this year’s awards.
Built between 1939-41 by Peacock and Bewlay, the building was still in use as a gym when it was earmarked for demolition as part of the University of Birmingham’s masterplan.
Its usage was reassessed, and the demolition application removed. A project was launched to determine whether it could be refurbished economically, and a suitable use could be found.
Now complete and fully occupied, The Old Gym has provided 265 student spaces, notably an 81-seater, tiered lecture theatre and 90 open-plan desks across four floors, with meeting rooms and consulting pods on the two upper floors. The total internal area has been extensively expanded with breakout areas for each of the open plan office spaces.
Warren Jukes, Director, Associated Architects, said: “With its new study spaces and lecture theatre, we’re delighted to see the Old Gym being brought back to life in such a positive, useful way.
“Feedback from the University of Birmingham and students at the Edgbaston campus has been incredibly positive and for the Old Gym to now be shortlisted by the country’s leading retrofit awards shows how it is often possible to reconsider and reuse a structure instead of demolition and rebuild.
“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Associated Architects and the Old Gym is the perfect example of how old spaces can be reassessed as the buildings of tomorrow, perfectly in tune with the people need to use them.”
The 2019 winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at The Brewery in London on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.