Island House

Author: Andy Hartwell

This post deviates from our normal digital media and graphic design related articles, and is in reference to our working environment at our Birmingham headquarters.

Substrakt started, and have grown up, in Digbeth. We opted for this area as we felt it had promise for regeneration as well as a respect for history and heritage, which is attractive to creative businesses like ours. We have enjoyed our time here, and have been housed within vibrant creative spaces of Custard Factory followed by our current home at Fazeley Studios. We’ve keenly followed public realm and architectual development in this area and the wider city.

I walked past Island House today, which essentially acts as a gate house to Digbeth and East side if you come down the Fazeley Street way. A good number of our team, and also clients, get to our studio from the city this way. To my horror I found that it was no longer there. I had heard rumors, but nothing confirmed… so this was indeed a surprise.

The re generation and activity around this area of Birmingham is exciting and mostly positive (bar the odd exception) with a new park and University campus as well as the addition of reputable organisations such as Birmingham Ormiston Academy arriving in the area. These sites are all new buildings. I’d like to know what the reasoning is behind the demolition of such a gorgeous building. From what I gather it was structurally sound, it housed the City Council arts team not so long ago, and didn’t look too bad inside.

Was it to make way and create a view to the ‘amazing’ architecture? Was it just that the new hotel needed a car park? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that there must have been a way to keep this building standing. Are we so desperate to create a new identity for the city that we forget some of the old delightful buildings that have remained architectural pleasant for years and years.

I’m sure there is reasoning behind this and that someone will put me straight, but i’d like to hope that a huge amount of effort went in to trying to keep the building before the decision was made.

As a digital media business based in the Digbeth, an area named as a ‘digital quarter’, our desire to remain here has just decreased a little. No more surprises please!

Photo credit Brett Wilde

PS I’ve since found an article from Birmingham Mail that i’d obviously missed.