Organisation: Birmingham City University / STEAMhouse / Eastside Projects
Location: Digbeth, Birmingham
Function: Production workshops, event space, co-working, offices, creative project space
Floor Area: 1650m2
STEAMhouse is an innovation centre with a production space for artists, designers and SMEs to prototype and develop new products and works. The programme was developed after our initial research for a Birmingham Production Space with Eastside Projects. BCU became the lead partner for an ERDF grant with Eastside Projects receiving an ACE grant to fund the technical equipment.
Co.LAB co-produced the creative direction, design, finishes, and outline arrangement of the project alongside Ruth Claxton from Eastside Projects, Associated Architects and BCU’s department for Research Innovation + Enterprise. Located in a former car showroom on Digbeth High Street, the principle concept was to open up the fabrication process with functional adjacency routes through the workshop spaces. A labyrinth of rooms towards the rear were cleared to open up the floor area for large machinery and allowing natural light to enter from rooflights. Additional wall linings added to provide fire protection and acoustic buffer to the public event spaces.
The front space becomes a fluid area with bespoke furniture built in the workshops. All spaces were then finished with industrial colours to provide a form of wayfinding in the complex spaces behind.
Our design concept attempts to promote a ‘maker’ aesthetic and make it feel informal to break the perceived barrier to institutional facilities. We hope that as members sign up to the initiative, the physical environment changes and is personalised to foster a creative community around making.
The project was undertaken by Associated Architects as delivery architects and for submission to BREEAM.