Wind Tunnel Tests for Birmingham Office Tower

Posted on 23 March, 2014 by Cliff Goodwin

Birmingham city councillors have ordered wind tunnel test on the designs of a 15-storey office block despite unanimously backing the project as part a business district revival. The safety checks were agreed after concerns the building could funnel winds through nearby streets.


The potential danger to pedestrians was raised by planning committee member Barry Henley who feared the addition of the 240,000sq ft Lumina tower would combine with other new buildings in the Snow Hill Queensway area to produce unexpected gusts. “I am a little bit concerned at the way all these tower blocks are close to one another and that they might generate a wind tunnel effect,” he said.

After agreeing the colonnade mounted block — designed by Birmingham-based architectural practice Aedas — could well generate unpredictable effects the planners requested wind tunnel and computer modelling tests ahead of construction, which is expected to start within the next few weeks.  However, developers M&G Real Estate and Sterling Property Ventures said, they were pleased with the approval decision.

“The support shown for Lumina from the city council, Birmingham’s property industry and the wider business community demonstrates a clear understanding that the city needs high quality office accommodation if it is to compete on a national platform,” said Sterling spokesman James Howarth. “With this consent secured, we can transform an eyesore and deliver a critical mass of commercial development in one the city’s priority locations.”

The Lumina building — which follows other office developments at nearby Peat House, Alpha Tower and One Snowhill — is a joint venture to demolish a derelict 1960s two-storey building between the West Midlands Police headquarters at Lloyd House and the Holiday Inn on Snow Hill Queensway.

The glass-fronted Lumina tower will sit opposite Ballymore’s one-million square feet Snowhill development and very near Colmore Plaza’s 178,000sq ft of office space. It is also within walking distance of Birmingham Development Company’s redevelopment of the former Post & Mail site. “A lot of people will ask why build a major office now, when there’s an over-supply of Grade A space in Birmingham city centre,” asked Sterling’s managing director James Howarth.

“But the demand for that space will pick up as the recovery speeds up and that overhang of space is taken away. If we’re to win more inward investment like Deutsche Bank, which came to the city and expanded rapidly, Birmingham will need that space ready at hand. So it’s about getting ahead and planning for the future.

“We will be set fair for the recovery, and with the development of Snowhill on one side of the street, this development will really consolidate the development of Snow Hill Queensway into the city’s premier business district,” he added.

Sterling Property Ventures, established in March last year as a successor to Abstract Land’s operations arm, has also formed a joint venture with the city council to look at the long-term regeneration of the Great Charles Street site, a large area of wasteland between the city’s business district and Jewellery Quarter.

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