A striking new addition to Birmingham’s skyline, Moda, The Mercian has completed, redefining high-rise living in the city, and becoming its tallest residential tower.
Developed by rental living pioneer Moda Living and designed by Glenn Howells Architects, it represents a cutting-edge new template for build-to-rent neighbourhoods, combining accessible, aspirational homes, with generous resident amenities and services in a highly desirable central location.
With the population of Birmingham growing, alongside a resurgent economy that is driving increasing amounts of international investment across finance, technology and advanced manufacturing, there is a need for more housing in the city that is better connected to places of work, recreation and culture. This new offer will cater to this influx, bringing a contemporary residential typology promoting wellbeing, community values, and sustainable living through mixed-use, high-density design principles.
Comprising 481 new homes, from spacious one-beds to three-bed family homes, The building also incorporates a residents’ lounge, 24-hour gym, private dining room,cinema and games rooms, and a 200m running track set within 1,400 sqm of outdoor space on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city and just five minute walk from Chamberlain Square – the city’s new business address, also masterplanned by Glenn Howells Architects. At 42 storeys, and with a central location on Broad Street, – it marks the western gateway to the city centre, and is a major catalyst for the continuing regeneration of this fast developing neighbourhood.
In the late 18th century, Broad Street was a well-established neighbourhood that enjoyed good connections with surrounding areas, before many of the city’s most successful businesses were established locally in the 19thcentury, along with the accompanying residential provision, places of worship, and social institutions. Now, at the start of the 21st century, Broad Street is re-establishing its heritage at the nexus of a mixed-use urban area, with business, leisure,and residential communities co-existing.
As part of a three-storey podium filling the site’s footprint, an active frontage of flexible commercial units now meets Broad Streeton ground level, re-establishing the urban grain that has historically characterised the area, and transforming a previously underutilised space. The podium is also home to a triple height foyer and reception area, together with shop fronts and 489 cycle storages paces, which promote active and sustainable travel, reducing the building’s whole life-cycle carbon emissions.
The residents’ amenity offering is located atop the podium, providing a main hub for social, wellbeing, exercise and entertainment, as well as panoramic views of Birmingham city centre. Adjoining the open-plan lounge and communal areas area cinema, kitchen, and private dining room, all available to book through a residents’ app, witha 24-hour gym and fitness studios. A considered interiors palette, developed in collaboration with Naomi Cleaver, brings a sense of unity across these amenities, whileoutside, a landscaped realm provides access to nature, alongside seating and BBQ areas, and a 200m running track encircling the building on this level. Moda, The Mercian is built with quality health and wellbeing at the forefront,and secured a highly sought-after Fitwel three-star certification –the highest recognition from the world’s leading authority on healthy buildings–the first of its kind in Birmingham and one of the first in Europe.
The tall, slender proportion of the tower rising above the precast stone-clad podium is wrapped in a dynamic mix of bronze metal fins and glazed panels. This façade emphasises the verticality and elegance of the building form, brings contrast in tone and texture, and references the former Timmins brass works once located on the site.
To reduce embodied energy, minimise site wastage and deliver consistent quality on a restricted city centre site, the façade was constructed from just over 3,600 unitised panels as well as many of the other key work-packages including the bathroom and utility pods that benefited from a prefabricated assembly with offsite manufacturing.
Within the shoulder form, residences begin to ascend with generous one-bed apartments through to two and three-bed apartments up to the 13thfloor where the shoulder level relates to a mid-rise datum found across Broad Street. On the upper floors of the tower, a combination of one, two and three bed apartments continue upto the 41st floor, where the three bed penthouses are offered private outdoor terraces.
Designed as a 21st century smartbuilding, data on thermal comfort levels, Co2 and lighting conditions is automatically tracked in real-time through the residents’ appand can be adjusted to meet wellbeing standards and environmental performance.
The technology also allows residents to monitor their energy usage andcosts in real time, encouraging them to minimise these. Additionally, easily digestible data on carbon output and anonymous data on where their sustainability is ranked across the neighbourhood to incentivise green behaviours, further contributing positively to the building’s overall environmental performance.
The building operates 100% on renewable energy from wind, tidal and solar sources. As a long-term operator, Moda Living bulk buys the renewable energy for 12 months at a time, passing the cost savings onto its residents.
Contributing further to its ESG and social value impact, an Employment Hub was set up in collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority and contractor Sisk to deliver hundreds of local jobs and apprenticeships during construction, equipping them with valuable skills.’
With such anapproach, delivered on the build-to-rent model, itwill help to ensure that Birmingham has the next generation of residential offer to attract and retain the changing demographic of people working in the city, from young professionals to couples and families. Not only tapping into a rejuvenated city infrastructure, including the newly extended West Midlands Metro tramand surrounding regenerated canal network, the building also stands to tap into the social infrastructure of a better connected, healthier, and greener city.