The decision has been made to demolish the Ringway Centre. Birmingham council’s planning committee reconfirmed the approval of the planning application by the Commercial Estates Group to replace the Centre with three high raised residential buildings. This was a reconfirmation of the earlier decision to demolish the Centre which had been contested by the Twentieth Century Society who campaign to save outstanding British buildings. The Ringway centre on Smallbrook Queensway is a fine example of the Brutalist architecture that defined post war Birmingham. Similar buildings have now disappeared including the former Library of Birmingham in Paradise Circus. Others remain such as the Rotunda and the New Street station signal box, both preserved for future generations. The Ringway centre will not be a survivor.
Having already done a blog on the centre in early October 2023, this photo montage was taken with the Commonwealth games banners removed. What is revealed is the concrete patterns and the light boxes. At a distance, the sweeping structure looks majestic, closer views reveal the general wear and tear of the building. Such problems are seen from the Southside view where the structure is disintegrating. The new proposal will have new walkways from Chinatown and yes it will be shiny and bright. The contractors will be replacing concrete with glass and steel buildings. They will look nice in the short term but I am unsure whether they will be as majestic in 62 years’ time which is how long the Ringway building has been present in Birmingham.
The “new’ architecture of the City is one of skyscrapers. Will we be like Manchester where we create wind tunnels for people in the city whilst inside the buildings the amount of glass may resemble living in a greenhouse. Time will tell whether such cities will thrive. Meanwhile enjoy my pictures.
I am now done with my photographs of the centre for a while. I know that many more people will be taking pictures of this area which will provide a lasting legacy to this brutalist icon. I have added a few web links which add to the debate about the Centre. However its fate is now sealed and we wait to see what the replacement will look like.
This is my previous post when the Ringway Centre was cloaked with the Commonwealth Games banners. The fate of the centre was just about to be decided.