The masterplan for the world’s first mixed use net zero carbon skyscraper project was recently unveiled by the developer, Woodbourne Group in Birmingham, UK.

Designed by the UK-based architectural practice, Associated Architects, the proposed £360 million development, Curzon Wharf is located on a 3-acre property in the city centre and has a net zero carbon agenda for its operation. Working with engineering consultancy Cundall, Associated Architects is taking a whole building approach to achieve deep energy efficiency.

According to the architects, the scheme will deliver an optimised thermal envelope in line with Passivhaus principles, with the building featuring super insulated walls, floor and roof, triple glazing, minimisation of thermal bridging, maximisation of daylight, LED lighting and SMART controls. There will be zero reliance on fossil fuels, with heat pumps satisfying all heat demands, and electricity generated by renewable energy systems.

The buildings will be wrapped in a homogenous checkerboard pattern of cladding – a nod to the city’s red brick industrial architectural heritage, while the proportions of solid and glass and high insulation levels are carefully considered to meet the energy performance targets, the architects added.

Woodbourne Group stated that the proposed development at Curzon Wharf will be in line with the vision of the Big City framework, the objectives of Birmingham City Council’s Sustainable Community Strategy and the newly launched Our Future City Plan: Central Birmingham 2040.

Catering to a diverse community of users in a sustainable mixed use ecosystem, Curzon Wharf consists of the 53-storey Boulton Tower offering 498 residential apartments; the 41-storey Watt Tower featuring 732 student accommodation units; the 14-storey Galton Skytree with 265 co-living units; and the 9-storey office/R&D and life sciences building.

The development will also offer retail and leisure spaces as well as a new and improved public realm scheme along with walking and cycling routes. The masterplan includes the rejuvenation of the canal side and the introduction of diverse planting, green walls and rainwater gardens to create a network of green corridors and spaces to encourage wildlife.

Associated Architects director Richard Perry said, “Curzon Wharf is a statement of intent regarding design quality and its vision for net zero carbon-ready, mixed-use development is a bold response to Birmingham City Council’s call to action on climate change.”

“These proposals will have a truly transformative impact, providing a powerful piece of sustainable architecture on a gateway site into the city centre and a new vibrant destination along the historic canal network.

“Sky terraces, winter gardens and tree-lined piazzas will provide a substantial scheme of green urban infrastructure and external amenity, in line with the themes of Birmingham City Council’s ‘Our Future City Plan’.

“We have worked closely with the Council to knit the scheme into the vision for Dartmouth Circus and the network of pedestrian routes, cycle paths, canals and public places.”

Observing that the project signposts Birmingham’s route to delivering transformational change to the city, Woodbourne Group CEO Tani Dulay said, “Curzon Wharf isn’t just a development, it’s a manifesto that will position Birmingham as UK’s leading smart and sustainable city, helping to pave the way for the UK’s Green Revolution. It reinforces Birmingham’s position as the UK’s second city.

“It will act as a catalyst for the wider transformation of the Eastside area where a number of masterplans have been earmarked which otherwise would not be possible.”

Alex Carter, partner at Cundall, and multidisciplinary project lead commented, “Curzon Wharf is a key development for Birmingham, and it will lead the way for others within the city centre. We’ve worked closely with Woodbourne Group and the wider team over the past 18 months to ensure that net zero carbon principles are embedded in the development, starting with a fabric first and Passivhaus principles, efficient building services systems and removing fossil fuel use on site.”

Images: Associated Architects