The Assay Studios is a collection of flexible work spaces within the Grade II listed former Assay Office, located in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter.
The original building was one of the four assay offices established in the UK for the assaying, testing and hallmarking of precious metals. The relocation of the Assay Office provided our client, TCN, with the opportunity to develop the building into a series of bespoke, adaptable spaces for young start-up companies with flexible requirements.
The overall rationale for the project was to take an historic building which had been intensively used and altered and creatively regenerate it for modern occupation. The building dates from 1877 and was extended over the years into a complex series of interlinked rooms, offices and workshops. Following the initial strip out it became apparent that there was potential to uncover and preserve further historic building fabric which informed the overall design.
A key success was to find a way of making the building more legible by giving it a central heart and a street level presence which articulates the vibrancy and community within the building. This was achieved by removing the ground and first floor slab to replace the old garage door with a striking triple height contemporary glazed entrance giving an arrival point into the heart of the building and access off into the different cores.
The main studio spaces range in size and have been reclaimed from the labs, workshops and administration spaces of the Assay Office. Large new picture windows allow natural light into former industrial spaces, and the smaller rooms have been sensitively converted to provide workspace for small businesses. The original building’s formal rooms, safes and vaults are protected under the Grade II listing and these have been restored to create a series of dramatic meeting and collaboration spaces.
The conversion of the Assay Office had many challenges, but key to the success of the project was an inspiring and committed client and a great working relationship with Historic England and the conservation team at Birmingham City Council.