Local Residents Invited to Tour the NIA Works
Another NIA Residents Engagement Meeting was held on Tuesday 30th July.
This took the form of a conducted tour behind the scenes showing the building work in progress.
The meeting was conducted by BAM Construction, the global Dutch building contractors carrying out the £26 million redevelopment of the National Indoor Arena.
The initial phase started just 6 weeks ago in June and, with a work force of little more than 100, a remarkable amount has been achieved already. This is neither visible nor perceivable from looking at the outside of the building as the first phase is to rearrange and enhance current facilities, prior to their expansion. The venue is currently closed and this initial phase is to be completed ready for hand back to the NIA Management for shows on 13 September – no mean feat by the look of it.
The second phase will then take until December 2014 and will involve expansion of public “circulation” areas with improved retail and experience areas for visitors plus the transformation of the Brindley Place and canal facing external front of the building. This will lead to an 8 week closure from June 2014.
The work force will be variable in size peaking at over 200 workers. Opportunity to work on the project is focused on those living in the Birmingham vicinity with jobs deliberately created for the local unemployed as apprentices. BAM are in constant communication with the Canal and River Trust, Birmingham City Council and other local bodies to ensure agreement on working practices and minimise effects on local residents.
The 20 or so people on the tour were not able to take photos; but they wouldn’t have shown too much apart from evidence of removed walls and previous facilities (food stalls, bars, toilets, etc). We were escorted around the current external walkways at the front half of the building (see photo below left). Much of these walkways will be enclosed using cladded steel frames (see phot0 below right). A new “boardwalk “or ramp will run from the steps leading to the current main entrance from Cambridge Street. This will lead to the to-be enclosed first level walkway which will contain the new public main entrance which will face down the canal towards Brindley Place and the ICC/Symphony Hall building.
We did not visit the lowest level adjoining the towpath where demolition and steel work erection to support the new external spaces is in progress. This can be heard rather than seen as you wander along the towpath.
By the way there will be no reduction in the current towpath width, just some large steps down to it.
For the tree lovers amongst us I asked our guide (a Project Manager) what was going to happen to the large tree at the front of the building next to the canal bridge. We were told that as far as he knew there were no plans for it to be chopped down. The other small trees were removed recently to allow for the “boardwalk”.
Looking at the artists mock-up above and my (factual) photo I cannot see that the tree can play any part in the new NIA!
Another tour is planned for in a couple of months which anyone can join.
Birmingham International Food Fair
In case you haven’t noticed the feather flags around the city the 3rd fair will take place from 14-26 August from 10am to 9:30pm in and around Victoria Square.
Bigger than ever, there are to be 140 stalls. An outdoor seating area and bar will provide your space to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. There will also be live performances and music during the evenings.