Squirrel Works is a Grade 2 listed, three storey, Arts and Crafts factory in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, which we have reanimated with LIV Projekt.
When Squirrel Works was acquired by our Client it had been changed and adapted over the years, with suspended ceilings, patterned carpet and plasterboard partitions obscuring the original interiors. Our design for the conversion sought to rediscover and reinterpret lost features such as the glazed courtyard and circulation zones. The original high ceilings, exposed brickwork, large cast iron windows and steel beams have been combined with innovative and individual contemporary design. By understanding the listed building we were able to breath new life into it, creating a mixed use development of loft apartments, a town-house and an office unit.
Photography by Tom Bird
"Squirrel Works is a sensitive and imaginative repurposing of a Grade II listed former silver factory within Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter conservation area. The careful uncovering of the original building to deliver a series of apartments topped off with an understated and well detailed roof top penthouse has been delivered in a thoughtful and intelligent way. It retains the patina of history that the building has experienced but has been layered with a clean and well-mannered architectural approach that provides a great partner to the original building.
The circulation has been imaginatively re-interpreted by re-opening the central courtyard and providing a covered outside space which is crossed at first floor by a glass and steel bridge which has been neatly detailed to sit within the industrial setting. The apartments are gathered around this space and form the focal point of a building that has already achieved a strong social and community feel.
Details are simple and well resolved while the materials are predominantly industrial. The resultant units are generous with clear planning minimising subdivision. Larger spaces are retained ensuring the original structure and fabric remains visible and contrasted with contemporary glass, steel and timber. The generosity of space is commendable and the developers should be praised for such an approach.
The architects have brought a sensitive approach to ensuring a sustainable approach was followed. While the original brickwork has been revealed in many places this has not been achieved at the expense of energy performance. The roof and floors have been super insulated and MVHR has been provided, via well detailed exposed ductwork, to all flats while secondary glazing has been used where original metal windows were retained. On the front facade new double-glazed timber windows were installed replicating those of the original building."
- RIBA Judges