Millennium Point

Shortlisted RIBA competition entry for Exhibition gateway pavilion.

I remember as a child trying to fool my mother that a roadside tower was about to topple whenever we drove past it.’ – Angus Morrogh-Ryan 

Our big idea is to create that same feeling of drama – for this building to be something that takes your breath away. We have designed the pavilion as a large box that looks like it is being dragged by a balloon across a lawn and is about to take off. It is a frozen moment where the outcome is unknown – life in flux – something that has to be looked at.

The symbolism of the scheme for us is somewhere in between scientific innovation and cinema. It is a nod to Birmingham’s technological heritage and future, a surreal moment that is hard to forget. It will be a landmark: a pin in the cityscape that can be seen from afar, which is given even more life with projections and light.

We have designed the building to:

• be flexible and useful as a showcase

• catch the eye and mark Millennium Point from a distance

• reinforce the new brand for Millennium Point as innovative, useful

and imaginative.

The drama in the concept is deliverable structurally.

The perforated skin on the pavilion is to be structural – a lightweight, stressed, stainless steel

skin box, which is self-finished and reflective.

This solution has a secondary benefit – its low weight allows the critical connection at the ground to be kept to a visual minimum, while still providing a strong fixing to a mini-piled base.

The visual impact of the scheme is practical, secure and inclusive.

Translucent recycled plastic plates close the oculli apertures and act as lenses for the fibre optic lights within. This also prevents the structure from being used as a climbing frame.

Additional external projectors securely placed within a renewed landscape light up and project onto the balloon and the perforated box. This provides creative flexibility for any occasion or sponsor.

We propose that the landscape between the pavilion and Millennium Point is refurbished to support the story of the box taking off. A rippled lawn suggesting that the grass has been dramatically disturbed before take off, rather like a ruffled carpet, offers natural seating for people to enjoy the view at events or a south-facing lunchtime break. We have assumed that the remit of the landscaping will extend to safely resolving all ramps and steps to meet DDA compliance.

The scheme is useful inside and out.

We want the building to operate as more than simply a landmark. It has to work as an invitation to look at the contents of the pavilion, and a space to showcase information and objects.

Single span, seemingly ‘frameless’ structural double-glazing closes the interior environment with minimal visual interruption. Large sliding glazed screens allow for large displays to enter the space. 

The flooring is a continuation of the pavement’s hardstanding. This durable solution also emphasises the feeling of bringing the inside out and the outside in.

Wall perforations allow for displays to be easily hung.

Heating possibilities include both underfloor heating, and air conditioning concealed within the inner and outer skins.