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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Hathern Terra Cotta’s 100-year partnership with Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse

HTC SteamHouse Birmingham 2023 Beccy 3 web 792x528STEAMhouse is a hybrid building that promotes collaboration between students, start-ups and larger businesses, which Aukett Swanke began the design and briefing process of in January 2018.

Hathern Terra Cotta’s involvement in the project started in 1899 when Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Company were approached to supply the initial terracotta. Over the next few decades, it moved on from its genesis as the Eccles Rubber and Cycle Company headquarters and became a linen clothing factory under the Co-operative Society. Next, it produced factory-made pianos from 1931 before producing bedsteads from 1941 onwards until it fell into disuse and was ultimately severely damaged by a fire in 2007.

Aukett Swanke’s regeneration of STEAMhouse restored and regenerated the locally listed Belmont Works building. The Belmont Works industrial heritage was a key element for the rejuvenation and rather than overwhelm the previous presence, the original building was carefully elevated by the new building, allowing Belmont Works to retain aesthetic dominance, with Hathern Terra Cotta being brought in to supply over 2,500 units as part of the rebuild.

David Maddocks, Business Development Manager at Hathern Terra Cotta was eager to express his pride in the work:

“We’re very proud to revisit STEAMhouse generations later and help rebuild the site for a whole new generation. Hathern Terra Cotta’s work has been part of the DNA of the building for over 100 years and it’s been insightful to see how our internal growth over the last century has enabled us to improve on our initial work. We look forward to seeing STEAMhouse grow as a monument to local ingenuity going forward”.

Luke Wardle, Terra Cotta Supervisor expanded upon the scope of the work, noting that:

“321 different patterns and 417 moulds were manufactured to create the 2500 units required for the project, which was separated into a ten-phased program. These consisted of a variety of different profiles for the various sections of the building such as finials, pilaster blocks, voussoir’s, balustrade copings and ashlar to name but a few. A total of 2100 cubic feet of clay was required for the manufacturing, processed using our mid-range light fire clay blend consisting of a mixture of fireclay and marls to match perfectly with the existing fascia.”

20200724 084601 copy 1024x498Internally the multi-storey innards reflect the grandeur of the outer facades, with wide open areas assisting its occupants in their collaborative efforts. A community of networks and start-ups ensures that the University can enjoy a growth factor amongst those who occupy STEAMhouse.

To future-proof STEAMhouse, it was carefully designed to facilitate all its resident’s needs. Birmingham City University has ensured that STEAMhouse has access to state-of-the-art IT facilities, with a high-speed network servicing both businesses and building systems. To cater for a diverse range of requirements, STEAMhouse also provides a fully accessible reception space, five lifts around the building and numerous toiletry and shower rooms. Further ensuring accessibility, 40 cycle spaces were included in a secure area, as well as local car parking and a vehicular drop-off area.

Special attention was paid to the building’s environmental impact. The construction and refurbishment of the project paid careful attention to the measurement and reduction of carbon emissions during the manufacturing process. Unnecessary waste produced on site is minimised by a “reduce, reuse, recycle” mentality with an emphasis on good neighbourhood practices to ensure local negative impact is reduced and encourage the growth and proliferation of green areas.  In addition to the targeted reduction of electricity, gas and water consumption, the project has achieved a “Very Good” BREEAM rating.

STEAMhouse was finished on schedule and budget in January 2022 with the final touches completed in September 2022. The construction of STEAMhouse started in January 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit the UK, but with a carefully laid plan and timely actions, no delays were incurred due to COVID. Since its opening, STEAMhouse has won the coveted Victorian Society Conversation Award (Birmingham and West Midlands) and in October 2023 was announced the winner of the Education Estates “Project of the Year” in the Universities category, amongst numerous other shortlisted awards.

For further information visit www.mbhplc.co.uk