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Reconnecting the City

Paradise is the strategic transformation of one of the UK’s most complex and important urban sites, centred around the Grade I and II* listed buildings of Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square.

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Paradise has been named Masterplanning project of the year at the AJ Architecture Awards 2022. Read more here.

View from Victoria Square

A proud civic legacy

Integral to the proud heart of Victorian Britain’s leading manufacturing city, Paradise once symbolised the civic values championed by visionary Birmingham mayor and social reformer Joseph Chamberlain. Its 19th century architecture was identified by historian Asa Briggs as one of the most important collections of civic buildings in the world.

But the car-based urbanism of the post-war years had disconnected Birmingham’s city centre with a ring road and Paradise Circus, a multi-level interchange—almost completely severing pedestrian movement to the city centre from the west.

  • Illustrative masterplan with integrated pedestrian routes and public spaces

    Illustrative masterplan

  • Chamberlain Square 1800s

    Chamberlain Square 1800s

  • The site pre-development

    The site pre-development

  • Convoluted pedestrian and vehicular movement into and around the site pre-development.

    Convoluted pedestrian and vehicular movement into and around the site pre-development.

  • The site's public realm was fragmented and lacking open spaces.

    The site's public realm was fragmented and lacking open spaces.

The redeveloped Chamberlain Square

A Challenging Site

By Shauna Bradley

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Making good

Our challenge was how to repair and connect this historically and strategically important part of the city in a way that meets the needs of people today. Working closely with Birmingham City Council and MEPC (formerly Argent), we developed a strategy to deliver a new vision for a liveable city—an integrated, walkable city district with the right mix of work, play and living. Most importantly, we strove to reconnect Paradise to Birmingham city centre not with roads but with pedestrianised civic space.

The Paradise masterplan is driven by a mission to bring an underused part of the city back to life and into public use, reconnecting Birmingham’s municipal heart. Our design codes for the project encompassed the materiality of individual buildings as well as the experience of shared civic space—from the quality of daylight entering the square to permeability, routes and vistas. Chamberlain Square now honours its historic intentions with buildings old and new set within a cleanly defined, legible townscape—offering space to pause and truly appreciate a remarkable city.

  • View of Centenary Way connecting Chamberlain and Centenary Squares

  • The monument to Sir Thomas Atwood, Birmingham's first MP

  • Aerial view showing the surrounding civic setting

    Aerial view showing the surrounding civic setting

The Consultation Process

By Shauna Bradley

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Delivering a liveable city

Our feasibility studies encompassed multiple options for around 2 million sq ft of development in a design process that led to swift outline consent and a framework for delivery. Completed in early 2021, the first phase saw the transformation of Chamberlain Square’s public realm and the opening of two high-specification office buildings, One and Two Chamberlain Square.

We’re now working on the next exciting phases of Paradise, which include One Ratcliff Square—a luxury boutique hotel, One Centenary Way—a next-generation workplace, and Octagon—a landmark residential development of 370 new homes framing two new public squares that open up new routes across the city.

  • One Centenary Way

    One Centenary Way

  • Octagon


  • One Ratcliff Square

    One Ratcliff Square

View of the developed Chamberlain Square during the Commonwealth Games festivities

A vibrant Chamberlain Square during the 2022 Commonwealth Games

Client MEPC
Location Birmingham
Size Site area – 7 ha; 10 buildings; Commercial – 158,000 sq m; Retail and leisure – 11,150 sq m; 250 bedroom four-star hotel;
Status Current
Homes 370 build-to-rent apartments
Awards AJ Masterplan of the Year 2022
Shauna Bradley
Glenn Howells
Dav Bansal
Simon Pope
Hans Stolwijk
Matthew Westley
Any questions?