Transformation for No5’s Birmingham HQ

The working environment for 240 barristers and staff at the Birmingham HQ of one of the UK’s best-known chambers has been transformed after an 18-month project.

No5 Barristers’ Chambers has been in the city for a century, and at its Fountain Court head office in Steelhouse Lane since the 1960s, but CEO and director of Clerking, Tony McDaid, said the building was beginning to “look tired with some areas in need of urgent attention”.

“Previous landlords hadn’t refurbished the building over the years and although it wasn’t exactly falling apart, it clearly needed significant investment. We investigated moving elsewhere, but eventually decided to stay,” he said.

“Our latest landlords were relatively new, and KWB persuaded them to agree new leases and rent levels, so we knew we had the building for at least the next 10 years. The landlord agreed to invest, and we decided to follow suit.

“Over the course of a year, we agreed a plan which involved moving everyone on the fourth floor down to the first floor, involving significant refurbishment and a redesign, and approximately 25 barristers’ rooms also needed to be knocked through.”

Adrian Southall, director of KWB Workplace, said: “It began as a lease renegotiation and possible relocation, then became a sizeable refurb, which raised a series of unexpected issues, including power supplies, and finally it was all about project management.

“However, although the different elements took a long time to assemble and decanting the barristers between floors was a major challenge, it was absolutely worth it.

“The new open-plan design, the break-out space, and the feel of the whole workplace are now as good as anything you could find in Birmingham, and everyone there is delighted, which of course is the most important aspect.”

McDaid added: “We now have almost twice as much space as before, so much better conditions for the staff and our barristers.”