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fort dunlop

a successful transformation of a derelict warehouse

Fort Dunlop is the regeneration of an iconic yet derelict storage warehouse into 300,000ft2 of quality office space, a 100-bedroom hotel and retail facilities set within a landscaped masterplan.

Derelict for 25 years this once iconic tyre factory next to the M6 had become an eyesore and a symbol of a lost manufacturing era at odds with Birmingham’s regeneration. shedkm developed a bold and innovative response rational to transform this large scale building into a modern, mixed-use and highly desirable commercial asset.

After 20 years of disuse, English Partnerships approached Urban Splash and shedkm to look at the possibility of an urban renewal scheme for the building which had thus far evaded any viable solution due to an extremely deep 52m plan and lack of daylight. shedkm played a critical role in helping to evolve the brief for this building with an imaginative and cost effective approach to creating high quality office environments.


Urban Splash West Midlands Ltd




  • 35,528m2 + 100-bed hotel

Contract value:

£45 million




Won: 24 Awards, including 2012 BCO National Award and 2009 Civic Trust Award

an iconic national regeneration project

Working with the existing frame and deep plan, and within a challenging budget, we developed a mixed-use solution, which preserved as much of the existing built fabric as possible whilst creating flexible floorplates for a market-led approach to office occupation, with a range of unit sizes suitable for small and large scale businesses.

Our architectural approach retains the original profile of the building and celebrates its scale and heritage whilst clearly expressing new uses, with bold and distinctive office, retail and hotel insertions. A pared-back aesthetic and limited material palette of steel, glass, render and stone creates calm and order.

three main building facades were retained, along with soffits and columns, and a new glass façade

Services, lifts, stairs and toilets are located within a central spine which was extended beyond the original seven storeys to create an 11-storey tower. This blue wall, punctuated by matrix of portholes, provided highly visible accommodation for a new 100-bed hotel, with illuminated roof signage announces the building’s presence alongside the motorway. A ‘box within a box’ concept was used to develop the commercial floors as large, open-plan offices linked to the central spine. Floor plates were designed for maximum flexibility and sub divided into units between 1,000 and 53,000ft2.

Construction challenges included testing the load bearing capacity of the existing frame which, whilst robust, had suffered from extreme dereliction; the insertion of the hotel ‘spine’ with its variations in floor to floor dimensions and the construction of a new glazed curtain walled north elevation.

the largest speculative office building outside of london

The overall site itself is nearly three times as big as Fort Dunlop itself and required an innovative and appropriately-scaled landscaped strategy. Key elements include a green roof, rooftop promenade deck and landscaped car park. A supersized approach to seats, balustrades, walkways, along with a strong graphics gives the scheme a bold and confident presence which supported the client’s marketing strategy.

97% let two years ahead of schedule

A phased occupation strategy was developed to reduce the risk of marketing such a large, speculative project, the success of which depended on securing lettings and future cashflow.

shedkm integrated architecture, colour and visual identity to develop a bold and holistic brand concept for Fort Dunlop. New occupiers were encouraged to engage with and promote the brand to the wider business district, building a community of contemporary, commercial businesses and services.

Fort Dunlop has become a beacon of post-industrial regeneration, with hundreds of jobs and dozens of business accommodated. This thriving quarter has been a catalyst for further infrastructure development with a new bus service to the centre of Birmingham, sandwich bars, a play centre and creche.