Moss House

Birmingham

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Moss House is a new red brick building for University College Birmingham (UCB), located in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. The building respects and celebrates the character and craftsmanship of Jewellery Quarter, one of Birmingham’s most important and historic districts.

Above: Moss House site plan

The area’s origin is in the extraordinary 18th century industrial growth of Birmingham, and even today it remains a major centre of gold jewellery production in the UK and a close-knit working area and home to many small to medium sized family businesses. Moss House strives to celebrate this by creating a building that adds to this story, continuing the pattern and quality of nearby historic masterpieces, including Birmingham Assay Office (1773), Argent Centre (1863), Taylor & Challen buildings (1912) and Birmingham School of Jewellery (1890).

As a leading University, UCB specialises in vocational courses in both the Higher and Further Education sectors with a growing portfolio of apprenticeships. The new building creates an open teaching environment that connects students and staff using generous and enjoyable shared spaces that link state of the art teaching facilities with ‘living room’ style break out areas and social spaces.

Above: Ground floor

Above: First and second floor

The principle of connectivity has driven the organisation of the building. The central atrium is flooded with natural light and features a wooden central staircase with break-out seating, designed to promote interaction among the students, a motif replicated throughout Moss House.

The buildings utilize a simple palette of materials: brick, terracotta, metal, glass and masonry. The design focussed on the local urban form and massing, which reinforced the existing street pattern and corner edge to the site. This in turn informed the regular articulation of the structure, evident in best nearby buildings and industrial neighbours. Terracotta detailing is used throughout the Jewellery Quarter to denote openings and entrances, and Moss House nods to this by featuring terracotta elements such as window sills and headers to help the building merge into its context.

Internally spaces have a fresh, industrial feel, with exposed concrete columns, metal and glass, designed to be robust and durable. The building provides three lecture theatres, modern teaching spaces, a gym and an American-style student diner. As a flagship sports teaching facility, the building is also home to a 35-metre indoor running track, for speed and strength work.

Above: Section

Moss House is the second phase in the development of UCB’s new campus in the Jewellery Quarter and is part of the University’s strategic £100 million capital expansion in the heart of the city.

As well as providing for future growth at the University, the scheme responds to several major developments taking place nearby, most notably Paradise, which will bring a significant increase in size and scale of buildings to this part of the city. But most importantly the building provides UCB with world class facilities that will enrich Birmingham’s knowledge economy and boost training and employment opportunities for generations of young people in the city.

Below: 3D Section