Birmingham University Green Heart

Redefining the value of outdoor learning spaces within a new landscape at the heart of an historic Red Brick university.

Our design promotes the positive use of external academic space; establishing the landscape as the talking point of campus, facilitating discourse, occupation and random encounter; a seedbed where students and academics trade ideas and inspiration. 

 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)

We have used the significant level changes to create a three-dimensional landscape composition of earthworks and bridges which students can readily move over, through and across.


Focused around the formal axis established by the Chamberlain Clock tower and the Byzantine influenced semi-circular range of original academic buildings, our scheme establishes a new spatial geometry structured around a series of external rooms supporting a diverse programme of use.

The Green Heart marks a new chapter in the evolving fabric of the campus which has continued to change over the last century to reflect new trends within the higher education landscape. The University adopted a radical strategy in the early 2000’s by removing the 1950's Library building which had previously truncated the main axis, opening up 5 hectares of public realm at the heart of the campus. 

The Green Heart delivers a contemporary learning environment within the historic setting of the 1900's redbrick university campus.


Our design embraces contemporary technology with all areas digitally enabled, allowing the external spaces to become a meaningful extension of the learning environment. Sustainable technologies are embedded within our design including energy generating paving, charging sockets within furniture and rain gardens as an alternative to conventional drainage.  This has led to crossovers between designers and academics, with Churchman Thornhill Finch now collaborating with the University’s BIFOR Group on the use of green infrastructure in mitigating air quality.

Our hope is that the academic community will embrace the Green Heart and continue to re-work it such that it can become a test bed of new ideas.