The Magnificent Seven, plus…

Andy Munro gives us his good, bad and ugly of Brummie architecture.

Selfridges BirminghamThe Lonely Planet tourist guide has described the Selfridges building as a “peanut with acne” although strangely it’s in a list of ‘must sees’ ! This set me thinking of ‘modern’ buildings in the city centre that are worth a viewing. And here’s my magnificent seven (in no particular order)…

– Selfridges. One day the discs might fall off but until then it’s a great and quirky talking point.

– The Rotunda. Even more notable since the makeover. It’s iconically Birmingham and reminds rail travellers bound for our city that they’re home.

– Smallbrook Queensway. That sixties wavy effect does it for me

– The Custard Factory. Both the custard coloured refurb and the new building. The relationship between the buildings plus the Green Man et al are rightly famous at a European level

– The School of Jewellery extension. A subtle and sympathetic extension to an historic building with, incidentally, a superbly designed interior.

– Brindley Place. Particularly the building with the clock and the way the whole development is set up. The former building may be pastiche, but give me good pastiche over mediocre new designs any day.

– The Cube. I know it’s fashionable not to like it but I think it’s unusual enough to be of interest and a talking point as well.

The Cube - Birmingham

The Cube - Birmingham

Don’t get me started on the worst buildings but they include…

– The monstrosity that’s Broadway (Five Ways). Boring and without anything to commend it. Mind you, that applies to most of Broad St and Hagley Road.

-Five Ways Tower. A crumbling wreck that stands testimony to the quality of central government’s in house design team that was part of the defunct Property Sevices Agency;

– Millenium Point. A box-like building that’s an opportunity missed and fronts onto a brick prairie. If you don’t like lifts you can spend three hours using the escalator route to reach the fourth floor

– The ICC . Wonderful inside but the facade/shape is another opportunity missed.

– Paradise Forum (sorry Alan Clawley). In fairness I can see some merit, albeit limited, in the brutalist style but the inside is a shambles in design terms and an exercise in frustration for users (unless of course you’ve got all day). The concept of Paradise Forum is flawed by blocking off other parts of the city such as the Jewellery Quarter.

Millenium Point

Millenium Point

I could, of course, easily triple the list of naff and boring buildings which sadly far outweigh those ‘modern’ buildings of merit. There again (thankfully) I’m not an architect or a planner and I merely want an interesting street scene, as does the rest of the unfashionable Joe Public.

Birmingham's Rotunda

Birmingham's Rotunda