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RGB LED

Fort Dunlop

Fort Dunlop is the common name of the original tyre factory and head office of Dunlop Rubber in the Erdington district of Birmingham, England. It was established in 1917 and by 1954, the entire factory area employed 10,000 workers. At one time it was the world's largest factory, when it employed 3,200 workers.

Fort Dunlop is a landmark building next to the M6 motorway, near to junction 5. It is a Grade A locally listed building. It was designed by Sidney Stott and W.W. Gibbings in the 1920s.

Dunlop Tyres now occupies a small part of the original factory area.

Redevelopment

Urban Splash acquired the building and the 4.02 hectares (9.93 acres) of land from English Partnerships in 1999 and started work on drawing up proposals in conjunction with Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency who funded the reclamation of the land. Urban Splash hold the building on a 999 year lease from Advantage West Midlands.

The Fort Dunlop building, derelict for twenty years and was used as an advertising hoarding, has been redeveloped into an office and retail space with an adjoining Travelodge hotel. Work on the redevelopment commenced in December 2004. It now has of office space within the main building as well as recreational leisure space. There are also 1,150 basement and surface car parking spaces. The developers were Urban Splash and the architects were Liverpool-based Hazel Rounding of shedkm. The landscape designer for the building's setting was Martha Schwartz Inc.

By March 2005, all windows and poor quality extensions were removed to reveal the shell. The steel structure which would house the 100-bed Travelodge hotel began construction and the largest advertisement hoarding in the world at that time was constructed on the front of the building. The steel structure was completed in June 2005 along with the roof structure. The concrete was added to the steel structure two months later. They were manufactured offsite and transported to the building where they were fitted into place. They contained the circular holes on one side to make way for the circular windows. By the end of 2005, the windows were being added to the inside of the building. The outside structure was left as it was and the glass structure was built behind it. The assembly work had been completed to the adjacent structure and work had began to paint it dark blue with a sign saying "FORT DUNLOP" added to the top of the structure by March 2006. The sign is illuminated at night The skyline signage, with it's programmable, RGB LED illumination resulted in three separate industry awards for ASG, the company that designed, manufactured and installed the structures. Sign Industry Awards 2007. .

By June 2006, the windows had been fitted to the Travelodge and the hotel opened to the public. Window work on the inside of the old building was being completed and the floor layouts were being defined.

Fort Dunlop opened in an opening ceremony on December 1, 2006. Upon completion, it had the largest living grass roof in the United Kingdom which provides natural insulation and a wildlife reserve.

In August 2006, Urban Splash announced that three retail companies were to move to Fort Dunlop; house accessory specialist Dwell, relocating from the Custard Factory, Snap Galleries and a Birmingham-based coffee outlet called The Daily Grind Coffee Company. Another company, Boxer, a design consultancy, was announced as the first tenant, moving from their base in Coleshill.

Architecture

The early structure is of concrete, clad to a steel frame. Upon redevelopment, it was found that the steel frame had moved no more than , a reflection of the quality of construction. The building is deep. The south side measures in height and in width. The extension housing the Travelodge hotel extends from the building, and has a width of . The northern face is of slightly different architecture to the rest of the building as it was damaged during World War II by bombing raids by the Luftwaffe.

A circular light well was constructed from the roof to the atrium at the reception, allowing natural light to illuminate the centre of the building. At each floor, the light well is lined with steel to reflect the industrial heritage of the building.

References

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