ND – Grey Overcast, not Blue
Since the mid 1990’s Birmingham has undergone significant redevelopment. The previous 1960’s “upgrade” had not been a success and had deteriorated significantly so was due to be replaced. One aspect of the “car is the future” city was that it became pedestrian unfriendly, highways in the sky were built and the centre was bordered by the “concrete collar” ring road. Part of that collar was the elevated section at Masshouse consisting of a large roundabout close to the old Toys ‘r Us store, and an underpass for the main “collar” road.
The centre could not expand with this collar in place, so the Masshouse section was demolished, land freed up, and one-way systems put in place for traffic to go to and from Selfridges.
The old roundabout site, along with some surrounding land, is currently meant to be redeveloped into (mostly) apartment blocks. The first of those Masshouse blocks was finished some time ago and is occupied now, but the second has fallen short with the developers going out of business and the empty shell of the building standing forlorn and unloved. The remaining few buildings appear to be on the back-burner due to the current economic climate.
The curved white/grey building is the unfinished Phase 2, with the occupied and similarly styled Phase 1 at (approx) right angles behind it. I love this shot, it’s not exactly as it came from my camera, but I wanted to incorrectly emphasize old from new. The idea being that the new and modern buildings appear as Black and White (almost), but the old dilapidated buildings in front of them appear in colour giving them the feel of being younger whilst clearly in a run down state. The contrast between the two is quite striking, particularly when you see this image full size.
Standing on almost exactly the same spot, and taken on the same day, just facing the opposite way, is this favourite shot of Millennium Point.
Using similar colour and contrast adjustments as used in the Masshouse photo, I find this corner of the building very striking.
The orange-brown lines are actually hinged “vanes” that run the full length of this huge building and can be individually adjusted to angles to help shade the glass wall behind from the bright daylight sun. The upper vanes are hinged down to essentially block the sunlight out heavily, but the lower vanes hinge out, blocking direct sunlight but allowing indirect ambient light through to illuminate the interior. Again, this shot is a really strong image when displayed full size.
Both Masshouse and Millennium Point border an area of land, up to the main railway line out of New Street station that runs through Digbeth, currently being cleared to create a new city park. Other developments, both domestic and commercial will eventually be built around the park, and the entire area and project is called Eastside, due to its juxta-position to the city centre. This deliberate attempt to burst through the old concrete collar will be a huge improvement for Birmingham, and will contain the VTP200 as a landmark to be seen from miles around.