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Heavy Metal

Sitting right at the heart of Birmingham’s new mixed-use district, One Centenary Way provides next-generation office space for companies including Arup and Goldman Sachs, with workspace for 3,500 people distributed over 13 levels.

Inside out

A pivotal building within the Paradise redevelopment, One Centenary Way employs an expressive yet rigorously efficient structural solution to solve tricky below-ground constraints, including the A38 Queensway Tunnel. Denied the possibility of a load-bearing core, the new building’s façade steps in to provide structural stability in the form of a Vierendeel exoskeleton.

  • Concept models exploring various exo-frame options

    Concept models exploring various exo-frame options


  • One Centenary Way
  • A38 Tunnel

An Architectural Solution to a Structural Problem

By Shauna Bradley

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Building as bridge

Acting like a giant bridge, a pair of storey-height steel trusses transfers the load of the building to either side of the tunnel, as well as supporting a podium slab for the shear-resisting exoskeleton to rest on. In close collaboration with engineers Arup, we developed a structure that addresses the specific logistical challenges of the site in an architectural language expressive of Birmingham’s metalworking traditions.

  • Steel truss installation

  • Steel truss installation close-up

    Steel truss installation

  • Steel samples

  • Construction process

    Construction process

Complexities and Constraints

By Simon Pope

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Rational and sustainable

The building layout employs a column-minimising 12x9 metre grid, mirrored by facades composed around a 3-metre grid with a strong horizontal emphasis. In keeping with the structurally expressive exterior, One Centenary Way’s interior spaces feature exposed steel frames complemented by a materiality of natural textures and bespoke fittings.

Maximising sustainability and reducing embodied carbon was central to our design process, resulting in a structural design that minimises the use of concrete foundations and superstructure, and uses fully recyclable steel manufactured in the UK by BHC Steel, using hydro-generated energy. Following this green production route from factory to site and switching to rolled steel sections has saved 900 tonnes of embodied CO2 and reduced the carbon footprint of the entire building.

  • View of an empty floor plate


  • View of the roof terrace overlooking Broad Street

    The roof terrace overlooks Broad Street

The volume between One Centenary Way’s giant transfer trusses has been put to good use as an accessible cycle hub for the whole of the Paradise estate, occupying a space that celebrate the building’s structural audacity in bright pops of colour. With room for up to 500 bikes, this is Birmingham’s first large-scale cycle hub. As well as providing secure lock-up space, it offers a new level of facilities for cyclists with showers, locker rooms, servicing and bike hire.

“The scheme represents an effective placemaking approach delivering a vibrant new destination at the very heart of Birmingham. One Centenary Way will, I am sure, become a noted city landmark and a gateway to the whole development.”
Chris Taylor, Head of Private Markets at Hermes Investment Management

View from Centenary Square

View from Centenary Square

Project Challenges

By Francesca Ghavami-Milnes

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Client MEPC
Location Paradise, Birmingham
Size 35,400 sq m
Status Current
Awards BD Office Architect of the Year 2022
Simon Pope
Shauna Bradley
Charlotte Gallen
Francesca Ghavami-Milnes
Dav Bansal
Glenn Howells
Any questions?