Stanton Williams’ transformation of the Mailbox, a major retail-led mixed used destination in Birmingham, has opened.
Joint venture partners Milligan and Brockton Capital appointed Stanton Williams to redesign the retail, office and public areas, including the existing 24 hour pedestrian route through the site. Public areas of the building have now been opened, with office areas due to complete in Spring 2016.
Originally constructed in 1970, the Mailbox building was converted in 2001 from a Royal Mail sorting office into one of the largest mixed use buildings in the UK. At 140,000m², the Mailbox housed commercial office space for BBC Birmingham and Network Rail, two hotels, housing and over 14,280m² of open air, streetscape retail.
Stanton Williams’ transformation required significant alterations to the interior of the building, with the removal of large parts of the existing structure and the introduction of a new skylight to create an internal 90m long ‘Urban Room’. This is designed to function as an internal public space, much as an Assembly Room would have been in the eighteenth century, or the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is today. Capable of hosting various events, exhibitions and other social activities, the Urban Room is a new type of meeting place, which also provides a focus for the retail and office occupiers.
The redevelopment also transformed 4,700m² of disconnected office space into one of the largest single floor plates of office space in Birmingham. The refurbished office is accessed by a new reception area.
The public route through the building ascends over 12m between main entrance levels at each side of the building through a series of newly created spaces, before arriving at the canalside restaurants along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. At the heart of this route the double height volume of the Urban Room is filled with diffused daylight which filters through the new skylight and a series of fins framing the space below. On the internal elevations the fins fold down, screening views into the office and providing a backdrop for events and activities to be staged within the Urban Room.
Gavin Henderson, Director at Stanton Williams said:
“Our transformation of the Mailbox and the creation of the ‘Urban Room’ has created a new public space for Birmingham and, by reinforcing the link between the city with the canal network, plays an important role in the on-going regeneration of the city’s public realm.”