Local practice also asked to rework high-rise plan in city

Glenn Howells Architects’ plans to convert a historic warehouse in Birmingham into a new base for the BBC have been given the green light.

The Typhoo factory in Digbeth will be transformed into the headquarters of BBC Birmingham for developers Benacre Properties and Stoford following the approval from the local council.

Two thirds of the existing warehouse, built in 1929, will be retained, with the new scheme aiming to become an “exemplar sustainable workplace” which will positively contribute to the BBC’s target of becoming net zero by 2030, Glenn Howells said.

The Digbeth-based practice said the scheme, which is scheduled to complete in 2025, aims to deliver one of Birmingham’s first net zero buildings in construction, setting a new sustainability benchmark for the city. 

A new double height ‘shopfront’ drawing inspiration from the building’s Art Deco style will provide a public face to the building, leading into a grand atrium running through the centre of the workplace which is designed to fill the interior with natural light.

Studio spaces, editing suites, desk spaces and a TV production space will be located on the building’s first and second floors, with the top floor containing a roof garden overlooking the city and the HS2 line coming into the city from the east.

Glenn Howells Architects partner Sandeep Shambi said the scheme, which will be the first phase of the practice’s Typhoo Wharf masterplan, will reinforce Digbeth’s position as the cultural heart of Birmingham

“The building will provide the BBC with an unrivalled location within minutes of HS2, flexibility to adapt and grow, and an opportunity to create a unique, sustainable workplace whilst reinvigorating a piece of Digbeth’s heritage,” he said.

The wider masterplan will transform more than 10 acres of canal side land into a new creative district for Birmingham. The area will become home to a range of media offices including Midlands Today, BBC Radio WM, Newsbeat and Asian Network News. 

Glenn Howells notched up two nominations for this year’s RIBA West Midlands Awards for schemes completed in its home city, the Two Chamberlain Square office block and the residential Brick House development.

Last week Building Design also revealed the practice’s plans to halve the size of a consented 61-storey Glancy Nicholls-designed tower in Birmingham for developer Urban Vision after the initial plans were deemed “undeliverable”.