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This 2,000m² scheme provided a restaurant, gallery space and 105 small, low-rent office spaces for start-up ‘new media’ companies.
This new building forms part of over 20,000m² of offices, workshops, meeting rooms, dance studios, performance venues, holistic therapy rooms, galleries, cafés and bars located in and around the old Bird’s Custard factory.
The complex provides facilities for hundreds of media companies, artists and small creative enterprises. The Custard factory website calls this ‘the UK’s leading destination for creative and digital businesses, independent shops and alternative culture outside London.’
The first phase of the Custard Factory saw the original Bird’s factory turned into studios of various sizes for companies working in the creative arts – graphic and fine artists, sculptors, record companies, architects and designers.
Bryden Wood were employed to design a new Custard Factory building on the adjacent site and to convert an existing derelict warehouse building into a night club (Code).
This was part of an initiative to revitalise Digbeth, an area to the east of Birmingham city centre, which has traditionally been a focal point for artists and musicians but which had declined since the 1960s. While the ground floor provides a restaurant and gallery space, the upper floors consist of 105 small, low rent studio spaces for young companies working in the creative arts.
The brief had two key elements: the first was that every unit was to have a good view and a balcony, a considerable internal planning challenge. The second, in recognition of the increasing reliance on technology in the arts, was to make the building ‘future proof’ in as much as it was to provide the highest specification IT facilities, enabling the companies to communicate with each other for the exchange of ideas, as well as with their external customers and clients.