One SnowHill

  • Birmingham

  • 2009

  • Contractor Kier Build Ltd, UK

  • Photos: Charlotte Wood

Part of the Snowhill Development near the Snowhill Station in Birmingham

Sidell Gibson have master planned this significant City centre site at Snowhill Station in Birmingham to provide approximately 52,000m² net area of high quality offices, up to 5,000m² of retail and leisure space.
The site presents a complex 3-dimensional planning problem involving the realignment of the surrounding roads and junctions giving significant increases in area, connection to the station concourse and new transport interchange, and the incorporation of a new tram line on its own viaduct. The development will form a strategic link between the business centre of Birmingham and the historic Gun and Jewellery quarters. To this end, the design will group the new buildings around a series of landscaped public spaces encouraging pedestrian movement between the areas.
The strong symmetrical views from Colmore Square and Station forecourt into the archway and leading into the arcades is enhanced by a raking south-west wall which ‘encloses’ the pedestrian boulevard and future metro line.
The façade consists mainly of floor to ceiling glazed cassettes, silicon joined externally and with aluminium spandrels expressed on double floors to enhance scale.
One Snowhill is on 15 levels: 12-storey office building above and a three-storey basement car park. It has internal and external atria which draw natural light deep into the building. Important feature of the South elevation is the 6° outward sloping façade.
Each façade employs Okalux®insulated glass panels to ⅓ of the office façade areas, but varying shading devices, designed to respect the sun path, while maintaining the overall integrity of the overall composition.
Vertical translucent glass fins are incorporated in the north-east façade, and double skin flush glazing with integral blinds on the south-east. The south-west façade employs horizontal fins, and the raked angle also helps shading from high level sun.


  • Unitised façade

  • Featuring elements

The technology


The structural silicone unitised curtain walling system is a bespoke design in order to allow for the slab live load deflection and to integrate the feature glazed fins and horizontal glazed sunshades.
The optimal energetic balance of the building is achieved by means of Okalux® and vision DGU integrated with interstitial blinds to the South Elevation. The horizontal glazed sunshades on the South Elevation, consisting of laminated glass with translucent PVB interlayer, provide further solar control to the façade.
The sunshades were tested at the “Istituto Giordano”, an accredited laboratory, to ensure that when both panes of the laminated glass were broken the sunshade remained attached to the building, guaranteeing the highest safety standard.
The aesthetical spandrel panels integrated into the façade system create an attractive feature of the building, thus defining double storey height volumes. The South Elevation, projecting outward at 6° toward the Birmingham Snow Hill railway station, connects with the rest of the building through scenic glazed corners.


The amazing volume generated inside the building by the entrance lobbies and the internal and the external atria, allow the penetration and the diffusion of natural daylight through the floors, to create a sustainable and desirable working place.
The fully glazed main atrium, facing the Plaza, consists of impressive structural glazed units (2800 wide x 3900 high, weighing 600 kg each) climbing up to the ETFE atrium roof, supported by a 3-D steel structural framework. Main entrances, giving personnel access to the building, to both the Queensway and Metro Boulevard Elevations, consist of bolted glass systems with vertical laminated glass fins with bolt fixings to support the glass screen. The three staircases are glazed with complimentary fritted structural silicone glazed system to maintain a consistent theme.
The glass balustrades to the link bridges connect the working areas either side of the atrium void, thus allowing a better use of the common spaces.


Sidell Gibson Partnership

Sidell Gibson Architects is a London and Birmingham based Architects Practice, started in 1973 by Ron Sidell and Paul Gibson partnership. The practice has an established track record in commercial, residential, and several specialist sectors including education, housing and interior design. Sidell Gibson Partnership LLP includes John Miller + Partners with Sidell Gibson Architects and Sidell Gibson Crouch Butler. Sidell Gibson Architects believe that each building should respond to its location not only architecturally, but also in terms of its environmental performance; they are proud members of the UK Green Building Council, The Green Register and the Association of Environment Conscious Builders.