It is the largest hub of digital and creative talent outside of London, and now the Custard Factory has sought some innovation of its own, in the form of RIBA chartered Innovation Architecture. Looking for a complete makeover of its outside courtyard space, the Digbeth-based venue has now welcomed a flexible public events space as part of a 3-month construction project with the architects practice.

Known as the city’s Creative Quarter, Custard Factory was previously home to a reflective pool feature, but after three months’ redevelopment, the pool has now made way for a paved area allowing for several adaptable plug-in layouts to be applied. 

Delivered by Intervention Architecture, after a brief developed with the client last summer, this optimization of the space for public use means that it is now not only a feature point, but also a functioning area for external seating, exhibitions, and events. The reinvigorated courtyard has revived the opportunities for outdoor functions with 550 sq. m. of additional space.

To create the space, Intervention Architecture looked at the classical approach to a piazza, whereby buildings form a backdrop to a secluded public square and open courtyard. The view of the classical courtyard was combined with the vision of a contemporary and flexible use of outdoor space. This led to the establishment of four main zones, which bind the courtyard. These zones vary according to use, with differing cross overs of activity creating a well linked proposed public space.

“From the moment we won the Custard Factory job, the pressure was on to ensure that renovation was the best it could be, as the space is held in such high esteem by so many people. It’s been three months in the making and we’re incredibly proud of being part of the creation of a new public space in Digbeth. The challenge was to completely redress the iconic area and, in the process, make the one space into a flexible area for many. We are looking forward to see how it is used in years to come, as we’re based here within this creative community,” comments Anna Parker, the Founding Director of Intervention Architecture.

Having seen the project through from conception to completion, she adds:

“As a practice, we’ve only been operating for two years so to have already achieved the varied work we’ve completed gives us such an appreciation for where we are based. My hopes for Intervention Architecture are that we will be able to continue to shape the landscape of this great city, in particular in the Creative Quarter that has been so welcoming to us.”

Situated in Digbeth’s ArtHaus, Intervention Architecture is helping change the face of the city’s residential offering, with projects including Warehouse refurbishments in the Jewellery Quarter. The firm has also contributed to the local arts scene and the discussions around the direction of the West Midlands’ property solutions through exhibitions, including most recently a submission for the Centrala exhibition, FLUX, with an immersive form installation called ‘Where The Heart Is’. Designed to question the domestic setting of the family dynamic, the exhibit used architecture and subtle interventions as the method of choice.

As well as being a collaborator, Intervention Architecture has also created and hosted its own exhibition, ‘Speculations: at Home’, which was displayed in April 2017 and instigated a broad discussion around housing design in the West Midlands. Inviting a variety of architectural practices to weigh in on the future of the region, the event sought solutions to local housing questions. Sponsored by RIBA West Midlands, the evening at Digbeth’s Centrala gallery included talks from local industry specialists and Intervention Architecture’s own Anna Parker.

For more information about the practice, the team, and the projects, visit Intervention Architecture’s website.


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