University of Birmingham set for expansion under new plans

How the new teaching facility would look

The University of Birmingham is to undergo further expansion with plans submitted for a major new teaching facility within its Edgbaston campus.

The 4,800m² three-storey building will include two lecture theatres (one of 500 seats, the other 250), 10 seminar rooms, break out study areas, and a café.

A planning statement produced by Turley to accompany the application to Birmingham City Council, states: “The building is proposed to enable the University to provide a high-quality learning facility for existing and students, which meets the needs of 21st century teaching and learning.

“The proposed building will provide social learning and teaching spaces to accommodate existing students and staff.”

It states that pressure on existing lecture and seminar facilities across the Edgbaston campus is intense.

“The University is struggling to meet demand for large lecture theatre provision, and the current utilisation rates for these spaces far exceed the 80% occupancy rate which is recognised as good practice by the sector,” adds the statement.

“This intensive utilisation limits the ability of staff to develop their curriculum and introduce more collaborative elements as despite the University having a 9am-7pm teaching day, there simply isn’t sufficient time within the day to expand teaching slots further to enable more interactive sessions.”

The University is facing similar challenges with its provision of seminar space, with demand outstripping supply of available space. In particular, there is a significant demand for rooms for groups of 20-30 students.

At present this demand is either not met, or students are instead taught in larger rooms not suitable for the type of teaching activity e.g. group work activity in small tiered lecture theatres or staff offices.

“The creation of the proposed Learning Spaces building, including a 250-seat interactive lecture theatre and a 500-seat lecture theatre along with a suite of 30-seat seminar rooms and associated study spaces will enable the University to meet existing demand that is not currently being met,” says the statement.

“It will also enable staff to deliver teaching in a manner more consistent with modern learning approaches. The building will embrace new technology, combining the benefits of on-campus learning with the merits of the University’s digital provision.”

The building would be located alongside the newly-built library, creating an interactive centre for students to study within formal and informal spaces.

The building is also intended to create a striking new piece of contemporary architecture at the ‘green heart’ of the Edgbaston campus.

The study says careful consideration has been given to the scale, massing, and design of the building to ensure that it forms a strong relationship with the surrounding buildings, both modern and historic, to provide a varied, but complimentary, collection of buildings.

Additionally, the café would accommodate 263 people, with the social learning study spaces serving upwards of 250 people.