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Chatwin Building, 81 Colmore Row

Birmingham, UK

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project overview

Grade II listed office reimagined for the modern worker

Located in the heart of the Colmore Business District, the refurbishment and extension of the Grade II listed 81 Colmore Row breathes new life into the office building. Now an important part of the prime business address, we repurposed the building to provide more lettable floorspace and modern amenities, whilst sensitively preserving its historic attributes.

Our refurbishment addresses the recent changes in ways of working. With flexible breakout space and meeting rooms, increasing employee connectivity, interaction, and collaboration.

The new terrace extension promotes strong connections to the outdoors, encouraging people to enjoy more time outside to benefit their wellbeing and productivity.

Original architecturally significant features, such as Corinthian columns, cornices and panelling have been preserved, highlighting the building’s distinct heritage.

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project aims

Developing a space that meets the needs of the 21st century employee

Set to be the new home to leading employers within the district, the brief outlined the requirement to provide better amenities to benefit employees. Creating not only just a place to work, but also somewhere employees can relax, connect and collaborate. The space had to be fit for the future, matching the needs of the occupants, whilst retaining existing and heritage features.

We also had to address the existing upper floors, from poor daylight, minimal floor to ceiling heights, outdated facilities including a lack of disabled toilets, and windows not up to thermal standards. We expanded upon the existing space to create a contemporary workspace, incorporating unisex changing rooms, cyclist and welfare facilities as well as more collaborative socialising space.

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design concept

Creating a contemporary workplace

We recognised the important heritage of the building, retaining the historic and well known stone facade. Designed in a classical style with highly symmetrical and architectural features including a central entrance highlighted by a porch supported by Corinthian columns.

To enhance visibility and introduce a new focal point in the reception area, we replaced the existing ground floor windows. This transformation creates a contemporary, inviting and comfortable environment for those who work in the building.

We introduced a small roof extension, providing a shared terrace space for employees. Whilst making full use of the surrounding context of Colmore Row and St Phillips Square. As well as maximising daylight throughout the building.

The shared communal space is designed flexibly, equipped with a kitchen area, break out area and meeting rooms. The terrace is accessible from the breakout area and the larger meeting room, encouraging tenants to enjoy the outdoors.

Supporting the client’s vision to attract new tenants, outdoor lighting emphasises the listed stone facade whilst improving the street presence, drawing people into the building.

design development

Transformation of the reception space

A key part of our client’s brief was to include a generous and welcoming reception entrance at ground floor level off Colmore Row. The existing entrance to the building was slightly awkward and felt dated. We introduced a strong front presence which complements the neighbouring buildings, whilst creating an entrance in which people felt proud to arrive at.

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interior design

Bringing old and new together to create a harmonious, cohesive workspace

Through extensive consultation and collaboration with heritage consultants, the planning and listed building team, our interior designers have created a space which successfully and harmoniously marries together the existing building front with heritage Victorian spaces and the rear modern 80’s extension.

By using stone effect finishes, heritage Victorian colours and bronze, we are reflecting building’s origins of metalwork, gold and silversmithing. We have integrated old with new into a cohesive design, retaining and complementing the original arched windows of the frontage with feature lighting and flooring design.

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Interior design

Minimal, clean lines sitting alongside classic features

Neutral and classic palette of materials, incorporating greenery adds life and a sense of wellbeing to the space. Timber accents add warmth, while stone-effect porcelains and laminates create a timeless aesthetic.

The wall behind reception acts as a feature wall, incorporating building signage and branding. While the tall ceiling height provides opportunity for feature lighting, to create a sense of impact.

The office space gives tenants the opportunity to put their own mark on the space, refurbished with raised access floor, a new ceiling and lighting concept and painted white.

We developed a simple and contemporary palette for the WCs and showers. Taking into consideration both the maintenance strategy and prioritising longevity of the building.


Exploring the project’s inspiring revitalisation

Hear from project architect Simon Lamprell and interior designer Jenny Flower as they explore the visionary journey behind the transformation of the Grade II listed building into the vibrant, sustainable office space it stands as today.

design development

New bespoke contemporary office space

An increase in office floorspace was needed to enable the building to accommodate tenants with more employees. We refurbished the floor plates to bring them up to current standards, maximised ceiling heights and adapted the core levels to avoid level change within the floor plate and improve accessibility. The new core arrangement also allows for disabled WCs and two new lifts.

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Preserving and enhancing historical significance

The characterful building has been around for over 150 years and sits as part of a street full of heritage and culture. Representing this, the building has been renamed after Julius Alfred Chatwin, born in Birmingham and one of the city’s most prolific architects.

On the first floor, you’ll find three central windows with balconies, each flanked by Corinthian columns supporting segmental pediments which are heavily embellished.

The second floor has a central arcade of seven small arched windows flanked each side by a roundel containing sculpted head of renaissance goldsmiths Ghiberti and Cellini.

Preserving the distinctive features of the building was a priority. We enlisted stone masons to restore the facade sculptures, bringing them back to their former glory.

The conversation strategy ensures building longevity, supported further by lower maintenance sustainable interventions including VRF air conditioning, LED lighting and 100% renewable electricity. The project has achieved BREEAM Excellent and an EPC B rating.

key information

Project summary


Birmingham, B3 2BA


Floreat Group






BREEAM Excellent
EPC B Rating


2,581 m2


Grade II listed building
Office space
Break out space
Terrace area
Ground floor restaurant


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