Birmingham City University spotlights 12 creative partnership projects

Birmingham City University

A project that asks how to design packaging to encourage consumers to recycle it and a ‘biobox’ to help people learn about biomaterials are included in our latest school show by students at Birmingham City University.

The Collaborative Laboratory is a multidisciplinary initiative at the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. This year the students have collaborated with creative partners, including the Birmingham City Council Environment and Sustainability and Birmingham School of Jewellery.

Birmingham City University

School: Birmingham City University, Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
Collaborative Laboratory
Co\Lab Coordinator:
Alessandro Columbano

School statement:

“The Collaborative Laboratory is a multifaceted initiative embedded within the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. We focus on design research, entrepreneurial community engagement, design innovation, collective urbanism, installations and structures, and trans-disciplinary exploration with collaborative practice as a critical working methodology.

“It acts as a vehicle to directly engage the school, our staff and students to collaborate with partners across a varied field of artistic disciplines and scales.

“Projects intervene across the city – acting as a laboratory to test our ideas against. We explore liveness issues – the relevancy of the creative arts, design industries and all its disciplines to challenge the limits and crossovers between them – developing new innovative practices to explore contemporary issues that affect our urban contexts.

“Each elective is partnered with an organisation to enact the liveness between the design school and the city. Projects are completed by second-year undergraduate students across different courses with postgraduate MArch students. This showcase demonstrates a full range of our transdisciplinary collaborations.”

Birmingham City University

Sensory Narrative Devices

“Sensory elements can be used as a medium to tell stories of buildings and create exciting experiences for heritage spaces. Working with Roundhouse, a 19th-century stable building now managed by the National Trust, students produced a series of spatial interventions on-site to celebrate the building’s history and link to the wider parts of the canal network it straddles.

“This project offers an opportunity to explore the experiential design for new museum and gallery spaces, engaging with the narrative design theories.”

Partner: Birmingham Roundhouse
Group image: 
Soha Khazaie, Ella Merritt, Shivsen Padhiar and Amber Gadsby
Delia Skinner and Dr Jieling Xiao

Birmingham City University

Gramer Haor

“Haor is a unique seasonal wetland ecosystem in the northeast area of Bangladesh. Due to climate change, seasonal flooding and economic influence, the lives of local people have gradually separated from the connection to the water.

“Students from Co\LAB and Shahjalal University have worked together to create a new vision for the site within the village of Kazigonj Bazar, located approximately 40 kilometres southwest of Sylhet.

“The vision was developed with a series of mapping studies before developing sustainable proposals for its context to become a pilot project for other villages to follow.”

Partners: Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Speakout Woolwich and The Prince’s Foundation
Group image:
Iulia-Oana Marinescu, Makhi Datta, Jaspal Khangura, Shakib Shohan, Sadia Afrin and William Weston
Eccles Ng with and Abu Siddiki (Speakout Woolwich)

Birmingham City University

Jewellery Multiplicity

“In this project, the students explored the different ways in which jewellery can be displayed. Breaking away from the traditional jewellery exhibition, we will be using various media to investigate the relationships between jewellery and the space beyond the body.

“Projection, lighting, video and augmented reality were used to propose live and virtual events of the final display. Collaborating with students and tutors from Birmingham School of Jewellery, the installation piece brought different design disciplines together, breaking the boundaries between them.

“The project explored scale and the possibilities that augmented reality opens up in the inhabitation of jewellery pieces and artefacts.”

Partner: Birmingham School of Jewellery
Group image:
Rasha Shrourou, Emma Trotman, Angelique Edwards, Lowell Shanks, Tai Teng, Haoming Tang and Shuyue Zhang
Dr Maria Sanchez and Lucas Hughes

Birmingham City University

Packaging Possibilities

“Packaging is one of the most ubiquitous forms of design visible in our world today. Packaging is considered an essential part of the consumer experience and is interacted with and, in most instances, discarded once it has served its purpose.

“There is no ignoring the impact of packaging and its negative reputation concerning sustainable issues. The collaboration involved students with Euro Packaging, a Birmingham-based company specialising in packaging manufacturing. The student work asks how we find better ways to design packaging or encourage consumers to consider recycling or re-use.”

Partner: Euro Packaging Ltd
Group image:
Konstantina Charitonidou, Ezgi Cokyasar, Eloise Hanion, Tasneema Begum and Tooba Nadeem
Wayne Pottinger

Birmingham City University

High Street 2030

“High streets are a vital part of everyday life in the UK, a focal point for exchange, social interactions, public services and cultural activity. However, they are facing well-documented challenges. In order to survive and thrive, we need to reconsider what and who high streets are for.

“Colab Dudley has been supporting local people to cultivate a kinder, more connected High Street. These collective experiments aim to uncover new, shared understandings of how a safe, friendly High Street can be shaped through imagination and collaboration. The group worked through participatory processes to design new physical and social infrastructure, supporting the shift from lockdown to a longer-term, people-led renewal of the High Street.”

Partner: CoLAB Dudley
Group image:
Oliwia Malanowicz, Weitong Jiang, Emma Langley and Luciana Micarelli
Dr Mat Jones with Holly Doron (APEC)

Birmingham City University

Frameworks for Environmental Justice 

“The Liveable Cities Research study looked at all aspects of what makes a sustainable city, and the global scientific community joined forces to agree upon and construct the UN New Urban Agenda.

“Both studies highlighted a similar conclusion: Within most cities, there had become a disconnect between municipal planning, municipal finance and municipal governance. One of the most significant city elements to fall has been the importance of ownership of the natural environment.

“This collaboration examined frameworks for environmental Justice and Green Infrastructure to improve the quality of life and environment for the Ward End Community, working with a local women’s charity, considering how policy, economy and society influences environmental justice to pilot a methodology to connect environmental justice and placemaking.”

Partner: Birmingham City Council Environment and Sustainability
Courses participating: BA (Hons) Architecture, BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture, MArch Architecture
Tutors: Dr Jemma Browne and Dawn Parke

Birmingham City University


“The climate emergency has brought industries to focus on their role in consuming resources and generating waste. Within the last two years, several initiatives, organisations and collectives are devoting themselves to a new way of creating materials from bio (organic) matter.

“Steamhouse, an innovation centre, has recently set up a material science lab to help local artists and designers expand their knowledge in the bio-materials discipline with a BioBox.

“This is an introductory kit of key ingredients and equipment to experiment with at home. Our students worked with Steamhouse and Materiom to explore this design science approach, learning the fundamentals of biomaterials and testing in agar and aggregates recipes for new applications.”

Partner: Steamhouse and Materiom
Group image:
Tegan Robinson-Morris, Molly Ratcliffe, Lauren Cadwgan and Sadea Abdo
Alessandro Columbano with Sarah King (Steamhouse)

Birmingham City University

Autonomy Complicity and Ascension

“The statue of the Princess Shebensopdet, in the University of Birmingham’s collection, evokes the scent of myrrh, the ceremonial sounds of Egyptian funerary rituals and the potential uplifting of the soul from the body. How might one translate these evocations into the phenomenal experience of a visitor?

“In collaboration with artist Kate DeRight, students investigated the statue in the collection of UoB and developed a multi-sensory experience. Here the audience physically rises in a space that echoes the multi-sensory story told by the statue of Shebensopdet – with a projection of images that would be paired with the other senses of sound, smell, taste and touch, and more.”

Partner: Kate DeRight and Beastdome
Group image:
Lauren Francis, Amsal Hassan and Pablo Cevallos
Dr Maria Sanchez and Max Carlsson Wisotsky

Birmingham City University

Cucina Futurisa

“Futurism was an artistic movement that emerged in early 20th century Italy, as a consequence of the rapid industrialisation of a traditional and agriculture-based society. The futurists were fascinated by technology and its potential for new possibilities in all aspects of life, including eating.

“The Futurist’s Cookbook (La Cucina Futurista) was its key bible – a compendium of recipes, environments and events that spans across food, architecture, interior and technology.

“Students referenced the cookbook to curate a unique dining experience with Kaye Winwood Projects set in the ornate interior of Medicine Gallery. Their experiments are indebted to the Marinetti’s Futurists Cookbook to design a range of utensils, lighting, atmosphere, food layouts and even cooking ingredients and recipes.”

Partner:  Kaye Winwood Projects and Medicine Gallery and Bakery
Group image:
Huma Mahmood, Tina Chaova, Dunia, El-Zahawi, Gertuda Blazaityte and Shannon Ciriaco
Alessandro Columbano and Nuno Jose

Birmingham City University

Real (Self-build) Homes, Real (Self-build) People

“Home construction today is dominated by a few large developer builders. This project asks: how can you disrupt the design and construction process for those seeking an alternative, so home seekers could be hands-on and create a healthy, comfortable, and genuinely affordable home?

“Cherwell District Council is a pioneering local authority in Oxfordshire, which has been looking into this question by setting up the Build! initiative to deliver innovative forms of affordable housing.

“Collaborating with our students, the research uncovered the background to self-build approaches and developed a detailed design resolution of a two-bedroom terraced house complete with fabricated junction details and a scaled innovative timber-framed structural system to allow for an environmentally high-performing envelope.”

Partner: Cherwell District Council, Clancy Consulting and EBS
Courses participating: BA (Hons) Architecture, BA (Hons) Product Furniture Design, BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and MArch Architecture
Dr Mat Jones and Ana Rute Costa

Birmingham City University


“Known as the Brick Project, this project saw a small group of students study the design and manufacture of special bricks, partnering up with Ibstock, one of the world’s largest brick manufacturers.

“Students experienced the process of brick manufacture at a factory visit before fabricating in our workshop facilities, producing scale samples how the design of the individual unit.

“Students explored relief, technique and surface. This simple creation of form, using the mouldable properties of clay, relies on careful manipulation of the raw material and consideration of how the final product can be configured as part of a repeating pattern.”

Partner: Ibstock Bricks
Group image:
Will Haynes, Danielle Long, Adam Scrimshaw, Ella Yafai, Olivia Myttion and Stuart Lee
Jim Sloan, David Sharpe and Ollie Chapman

Birmingham City University

Archival Conc(re)

“This is a theoretical space to speculate alternative scenarios from which to reimagine our relationship to materials of our urban landscape. It developed ideas around the ‘archive’ as a production site and questions of ownership in the age of digital piracy.

“Starting with digitised ruins of the Birmingham Central Library and the utopian ambition of brutalism, Conc(re) investigates the potential of concrete as a digital .obj file, manipulated and reformed, providing a space to experiment, think and play.

“It remoulds the debris of our past to develop new a visual language to think about the future. From Instagram to film work, and publication in digital form, the artefacts were presented at Eastside Projects.”

Partner: Agency for Speculative Landscapes and Birmingham School of Art
Student image:
Chen Liu
Alessandro Columbano and Gareth Proskourine-Barnett

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and Birmingham City University. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here

The post Birmingham City University spotlights 12 creative partnership projects appeared first on Dezeen.