TOY BOX, BIRMINGHAM
Situated within Birmingham City Centre, the development known as Toybox, due to its original usage as a factory producing toys, commenced on site on 8 May 2018 with demolition and construction of 290 beds, amenities spaces and landscaping.
Practical completion was achieved within an astonishing 69 week period on 2 September 2019.
This project was at the forefront of design, not just from an aesthetic approach, but also from a structural aspect. The frame and foundations consisted of a Concrete Post Tension design due to the drastic overhang to the entrance known as the ‘Shark fin’. Although Post Tension is commonly used within frames these days, foundation wise, it is extremely rare and to our professional team knowledge has only been undertaken on a ‘handful’ of occasions in the UK.
The 9-meter-long cantilevered floor at first-floor level ‘Shark fin’ was designed to hold the weight of the 14 stories above. The reasoning for this dramatic cantilever was due to the nearby train line tunnel running within a 10m zone of the development. This meant that no load was to be imposed on the ground within this zonal area, thus creating the cantilever.
State of the Art Design Techniques
As can be seen, the dramatic ceramic brickwork really provides a unique feature to this development. Subject to the time of the day and weather, it produces a different looking external appearance which can be seen throughout the city due to the height and position on the building.
Striking Aesthetic Design
Internally, no other student development in the city provides such a relaxing and significant view of the Midlands. The internal design approach was based around using this feature to obtain as much natural daylight into the building and focusing on internal finishes which are inspiring and relaxing to students. A big part of the design philosophy was based around how we can assist within our design to tackle such issues as Mental health, Social adversity and Gender issues. Room design, colour schemes and the facilities provided were all focused around these key issues.
Addressing modern-day Key Student Issues
A considerable amount of time was based around the design of the Internal fit out. Much consideration and work was focused upon the Student Experience. This led the team to agree to implement subtle changes to the fit out, but changes which would provide the students living in this development with much more comfort than what is found in your typical student accommodation; these entailed bigger rooms with the average bedroom space being 14.1m2 in lieu of the typical 12.5m2 model, minimum of 4.5m2 of kitchen space per student, minimum 2 kitchen cupboards per student, unique internal bedroom storage around the study area and bed. All these minor differences contribute to the student experience and make their learning journey easier and enjoyable.
This development has not just provided a landmark building from a visual concept, but has provided a ‘kick start’ of regeneration to the area. This can be seen with new Residential and Student developments being constructed adjacent and in the surrounding area. Although this building was not required to be BREEAM registered, many objectives were implemented as good practice, such as local employment, Considerate Construction registration, minimum building scoring such as Air testing below 5 and EPC rating minimum B.
The building also implemented many efficient and environmental solutions within the design such as CHP installation, Heat sensor monitoring and Enhanced Energy Metering using state of the art infrastructure to review all rooms’ usage.
Technology was also at the forefront of the design. A new Fibre broadband was installed, a first of its kind for student accommodation, which provided fibre technology and connectivity to all bedrooms allowing a guaranteed 200mb download speed to each student bedroom. This technology has the potential to receive speeds in the future in excess of 1gb due to the fibre link to the rooms in lieu of the standard cat 5/6 used in other accommodations.
The success of the development and the attraction that it offers to todays’ students can be evidentially seen, in that the development was 100% let for the September 2019 intake.
This is just a quick note to sincerely thank you and the Torsion team for an outstanding bit of support over the weekend.
The HFS guys were telling me that your chaps were incredibly efficient, helpful and supportive over the weekend, as well as kindly providing students with luggage carrying services to their rooms! I am very grateful that the initial check-in has worked so well and please kindly pass on my thanks to your team for their part in making this happen.
Head of Operational Asset Management