THE DEVELOPMENT Smallbrook Queensway (SBQ) in Birmingham city centre is a Grade B locally listed building. The six-storey 1960s brutalist property, designed by architect James Robert, is 230 metres long and features a gently sweeping elevation. The curved concrete-clad building provides street-level commercial space and walkways with office space above.
THE BRIEF The 2022 Commonwealth Games, taking place in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8, will be the greatest multisport event in England since the 2012 Games.
Ahead of the refurbishment CEG, working alongside Birmingham City Council, recognised that the property would benefit from printed building screening to disguise the property. This would also provide an opportunity to promote Birmingham as the proud host city of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Embrace were approached to deliver printed building wraps at four locations in the city centre. The most prominent banner would stretch the full 230 metre length of the Smallbrook Queensway. Three other banners were agreed, including one located on the Hurst Street link bridge.
THE SOLUTION The digitally printed banners were manufactured from a mesh PVC and secured to the buildings using a bespoke stainless steel wire system.
Working in the heart of any city centre comes with its own set of challenges. Positioned between the A38 ring road to the west and Dudley Street to the east, the busy surrounding area was characterised predominately by a mix of commercial, retail and leisure spaces.
Our solution comprised a main banner to the curved front elevation measuring 230 x 13 metres (2,990 m2), with a lower-level 70 x 3.4 metres (238 m2) section, 14 x 13 metres (182 m2) 19 x 4 meters (76m2) meters side elevations and finally a 40 x 13 metre (520 m2) banner to the rear on the Hurst Street link bridge above the underpass.
Due to the scale of the largest printed wrap, it was not practical to use one giant banner, so the Embrace team accurately split the install into seven smaller banners, each one measuring around 427m2. To mask the vertical perimeter detail and ties our experts used tried-and-tested printed 500mm cover strips with heavy duty Velcro so that the install almost looks like one seamless wrap.
Another consideration on the complex front elevation was the need to precisely accommodate 49 external lights. Each light fitting measured 2 metres wide by 500mm high and needed to remain in-situ, protruding smartly through the printed wraps. Embrace accommodated these with a series of perfectly placed envelope style slits with eyelets created in advance in the factory. Once the wrap was guided over the light fittings during installation the slits were secured back with cable ties.
The creative design of the printed building wrap capitalises on the Commonwealth Games using Birmingham City Council’s ‘Be Bold, Be Birmingham’ branding, creating a welcoming and vibrant entrance to visitors coming into Birmingham city centre. The largest 13-metre-tall printed building banner features a purple backdrop with contemporary letter B pattern, linked to the #BeBoldBeBham campaign. Secondary banners also advertise Birmingham as the “proud host city of the 2022 Commonwealth Games” with perfect synergy between all four banners.
The entire project including specification, planning approval, digital print, bespoke wire system and banner installation was delivered on time and to budget by Embrace and will remain in place for up to one year.