BIRMINGHAM, A BRITISH CITY FOR THE 21st CENTURY
Birmingham, England’s second city. A vibrant, industrial hub for many years but a city that many British people avoided than visited.
Birmingham has an extensive canal system of approximately 56Km, greater than Venice and linking London to Manchester. During the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, Birmingham’s canal system became central to the distribution of the materials, products and foodstuffs that fuelled the Revolution and attracted a large amount of heavy industries and its accompanying labour into the area.
Unfortunately, the heavy industry, extraction and burning of raw materials in the production processes also gave the area its unflattering nickname of “The Black Country” due to the large amounts of smoke and grime produced. The City became a place to work rather than to enjoy. The upper classes moved to the surrounding countryside and built large estates based on the wealth created by the City. If Birmingham was the industrial heartland, London was the financial and cultural centre of England.
After the Second World War and late into the 20th Century, the City of Birmingham began to attract immigration to fill the shortages of labour caused by the War and the ever increasing prosperity that new innovations brought; the internet, international travel and globalisation brought new demands and industries. Gradually, the heavy industries died out and new, consumerism took over. The immigrant community brought new culture and cuisine to the area.
The People of Birmingham saw an opportunity to reinvent the City. A new train station was built and high speed trains used Birmingham to connect North with South and West with East. Birmingham was central to England and was reinvented.
Developers soon followed and one London based Developer in particular. Argent, a relatively small Developer form Central London, saw the potential and decided to develop the central canal zone into a shopping, entertainment and cultural centre. Together with high class, homes overlooking the canals and the construction of a new entertainment arena and a state of the art concert hall, BrindleyPlace was born and Birmingham’s transformation into a cultural, entertainment and shopping destination began.
People followed and wanted to live and work in the City. After all it was only 2 hours from London and Manchester and businesses could travel easily between the centres for work and meetings.
Argent followed up their early success at BrindleyPlace with a business complex, Paradise Circus, a development of high class office and retail buildings aimed at the higher end of the market. Blue Chip Companies were to be attracted to Birmingham with a view to converting the tired “second city” into a National Leader of Commerce and innovation.
The City of Birmingham and Argent needed high class Architects and Contractors to deliver quality buildings that would attract the best tenants. The Architects came, amongst them Eric Parry Associates. The Contractors would follow; Mace, BAM, McAlpine all arrived.
Having blue chip architects and Building Managers was not enough. Quality Engineering Companies and Façade Contractors were required to actually develop the base designs and achieve high performance facades that were attractive, durable, cost effective and eco friendly.
This is where the task became more challenging. There were local British Façade Companies but they were used to providing low cost cladding for supermarkets and warehouses. Producing high quality facades required the skills of Europe’s best Façade Companies.
Inasus had recently completed the multi million pound façade for the new Heathrow Terminal 2A building. Inasus had also successfully completed the very prestigious façade at the University of Birmingham.
The Directors of Inasus had long realised that the market for façade work in London had been stagnating for years, complicated by a surplus of international façade companies competing for the same, low value but high cost work. The Directors realised that a new focus on the emerging development of Birmingham would better suit the Company’s profile.
Argent and Eric Parry had similar visions and Inasus was invited to undertake the design, supply and installation of One Chamberlain Square. Using high quality façade systems, incorporating terracotta and brass cladding, a new high quality headquarters for PWC was delivered within budget. Inasus were able to successfully deliver the façade despite the Main Contractor, Carillion, falling into Liquidation half way through the programme. Inasus successfully negotiated the outstanding works with Argent and the replacement Contractor, BAM, with the minimum of disruption.
Inasus UK (Birmingham) was born. Our aim is to continue to provide high quality, bespoke, façade systems to the City of Birmingham (and Manchester, etc) in our quest to provide quality building facades for a “New United Kingdom” with Spanish expertise and service.