I highly recommend to choose Birmingham as a top UK city to travel to for some amazing architecture, here you can find the Library of Birmingham, Selfridges building, New Street Station and more.
Before starting with the actual Birmingham architecture city guide these are few things I’ve learned spending a weekend in Birmingham:
- It is the largest and most populous city in the UK not considering London
The city’s nickname is Brum and people from or who live in Birmingham are called Brummies…not all, they even have a distinctive accent and dialect
The first thing I saw when I got off the bus was a huge demolition site, you know the ones that make you think you are in a post-war kind of city…but that’s because Birmingham has seen a vaste urban redevelopment which is still going on (I’ve been told to come back in 10 years to see the result)
- Even here you can find canals. But you won’t see them in this post since I haven’t taken any pictures
- The Selfridges building is one of the UK’s most photographed buildings
- The new Library is the largest public library in Europe
- Sad fact: lots of homeless, literally in every corner of the city
Probably the main attraction for all the shopaholics out there but not only as you should have read at the beginning of this post. Totally eye-catching exterior with its blobbing shape and numberless metallic discs on a blue background. Designed by Future System, a London-based design firm best known for its neofuturistic, organic, curvy and colourful buildings.
INTERESTING FACT: Marketa, the girl behind Caput Regni, told me that Jan Kaplický, the leading architect of Future System, is from Prague.
With this I understood that everything in life is linked so go and check out even
Ps. I didn’t know anything about him but his career and works are so interesting, I feel like I want to dedicate a whole post to him! Something beautiful he said:
“Where is it written that buildings have to be boxes? People aren’t boxes.”
Not much to say about it, I found it a bit misplaced but definitely appreciated the pureness of the forms and materials of classical architecture. Its sight made me think I really want to go to Greece though.
LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM
Really impressive building even if you just want to chill in a modern environment, you can easily spend all day here. Designed by the Dutch studio Mecanoo . I particularly loved the reflections and shadows that the pattern of metal rings makes inside, shame that it wasn’t a sunny day so I could just slightly capture them. Perfect if you want to admire the entire city thanks to many rooftop views. I’m sure it’s stunning during summer…I may come back to check it out.
Birmingham or Manchester? Whoch is Britain’s second city? Let me know what you think in the comments
NEW STREET STATION
Beautiful calming whiteness, fluid lines, smooth forms and diffuse light in the interior side while a metallic strip wraps up the exterior revealing two eyes set up with advertising screens. Personally I found these eyes facing the street quite disturbing, it reminded me of the slogan “Big Brother is watching you”, it represents quite well how I imagine the city Orwell described in his novel but it may be just me. Oh or “the Eye of Mordor” if you are more into The Lord of the Rings. I wonder if I am the only one to think so…
In the eastern part of the city you can find a totally renovated area that hosts the Science Museum, faculties of Birmingham City University and Birmingham Metropolitan College. Lovely area to explore and just found out I haven’t explored enough. Now, while I’m writing, I’ve just seen awesome pictures of the car park…the car park?? yes the car park!
There are actually more interesting places to go to but for one reason or another I have no pictures to show you.
- The canals, as in each city always the nicest places to have a walk
- The Mailbox, another shopping hub, more on the luxury/expensive side but who cares, we just like taking pictures there!
- The Cube, mixed-use building, I find it quite ugly from the outside but interesting views from the escalators
Well it seems like I need to go back…maybe I’ll wait for summer and hope for a different sky, light and vibes. But, as I said, it can be worthy to come back even in few years. If a city is recognisable by the famous and peculiar buildings which are used as background for tourists’ selfies, well let’s expect Birmingham to become quite soon a city with a skyline people will talk about.
I want to know about you now. Have you been in Birmingham and what do you think specially about the “blob alien” (how I friendly like to call the Selfridges Building) and the Library?
All photos and words by Nancy Da Campo