a cARPET FOR THE CITY

Birmingham's Centenary Square is reimagined though a tapestry of landscape 'carpets', each with a distinct social programme that together form a bold new vision for the popular public space.

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URBANISM / LANDSCAPE / COMMUNITY / COMPETITION

RIBA Competition for Centenary Square / Birmingham / 2014

Taking Tess Jaray's patterned paving as a departure point, 'A Carpet for the City' proposes a new language for Centenary square. 

We wanted to build on Jaray's surface designs, updating and up-scaling them to embrace the varied activities of this newly invigorated urban space. Using the municipal flag of Birmingham as a template, we laid out a new texture for the city, with the flag’s quadrants seen as overlaid carpets, creating flexible spaces for different programmes.

A series of convivial outdoor living rooms occupies the carpet in front of the library. Jaray’s original carpet is peeled up to create an amphitheatre and kiosk. The graphic treatment of the ground in different areas of the square connect them to each other and to the new developments in the vicinity. A garden to the south blocks out traffic noise, and a tree-lined central axis hosts a weekly market.

The patterns and colours of this urban carpet draw the varied areas of the city square together. New developments are linked to long-established institutions to create a new backdrop for Birmingham’s rich cultural centre.

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