Terra-cotta city: Ikon Gallery

Former Oozells Street School, now the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Former Oozells Street School, now the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery [http://www.ikon-gallery.co.uk/about/introduction] in the middle of Brindleyplace was formerly the Oozells Street School (Martin & Chamberlain 1877), one of the forty-one designs for the Birmingham School Board produced by Martin & Chamberlain between 1873 and 1898, in this case built to three storeys to make best use of a cramped site.

From 1906 it was the Pupil Teachers’ Centre for Girls, later the Commercial College Day Department and latterly the College of Food and Domestic Arts until 1967.

After years of neglect in the blighted Broad Street area, it was redeveloped for gallery use and its saddle-back ventilation tower rebuilt by Levitt Bernstein Associates (1997).

It’s a superb conversion, for the most part using the original classroom spaces, with modern access needs, including a glass-sided lift, carefully inserted.

Its excellent Café Ikon [http://www.ikon-gallery.co.uk/about/visiting/cafe_opus] is open to visitors without entering the gallery itself, and is a particularly pleasant place to sit on warm days.  It’s a good idea to beware of the teapots, though:  they’re good to look at but come adrift in the act of pouring.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s Birmingham’s Heritage lecture, please click here.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Survivals & Revivals:  past views of English architecture, please click here.

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