News Editor Liam Taft attended the official opening of the Green Heart on Friday 18th of January, where the Vice-Chancellor and Guild President opened the gates for the first time

News Editor and Third Year English Student.
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Images by University of Birmingham , Tom Leaman

The Green Heart is officially open after an opening ceremony took place on Friday 18th January. Vice-Chancellor Sir David Eastwood and Guild President Reece Patrick Roberts were in attendance and opened the gates leading to the Green Heart for the first time.

Construction began on the project in 2017 with the demolition of the old library. The 12 acres of parkland now boasts 160 trees, a grass auditorium for performances, and dedicated areas for art and sculpture from the university’s collections.

The work of the last 15 months has been extraordinary

A new water feature known as ‘The Rill’ is also being implemented, which will ‘bring together’ the new Teaching and Learning building and the Green Heart.

The space also includes digital information points and various Wi-Fi hotspots. With seating for up to 500 people, the university hopes that the Green Heart will be a place for students, staff, and members of the public to meet and relax.

A walkway has also been constructed that connects North Gate and Chancellor’s Court. This has improved accessibility for wheelchair users and people with white sticks. Not only that, it has restored the walkway between the two areas that was envisaged as part of the University’s original designs in the early 1900s.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood said: ‘The work of the last 15 months has been extraordinary.’

The Green Heart features three University crests recovered from the old library

He continued, adding: ‘This is a good example of our ambition to create a space that will become a thriving hub of biodiversity, provide flexible outdoor spaces for students, staff and the community and a sustainable heart to this Edgbaston campus.’

Guild of Students President, Reece Patrick Roberts also spoke at the event: ‘Today we open the gates to the students’ of Birmingham Green Heart, which to some students may just be lawn. But to the majority of them it’ll be a green heart that will be a platform for students to meet, to relax and share knowledge.’

Chris Churchman designed the project in association with Associated Architects. He said that it has been ‘a great honour’ to design the Green heart and that it has been a ‘rewarding experience to see our vision realised.’

Some students have spoken positively about the Green Heart. UoB student Roisin Murphy told Redbrick that it ‘really brings a nice atmosphere to the Uni.’ Roisin also suggested that she and her friends had already ‘gone onto the grass and chilled’ because it’s a ‘great place to relax.’ Adam Green agreed, saying that the final product is ‘better than I thought it would be – one hundred percent.’

A lot of people might choose to go to this University because of the way the campus looks

However, in regards to the funding of the Green Heart, a second-year English student told Redbrick that she is ‘angry’ that so much money has been spent on the project. ‘I think it’s a wonderful space,’ she said, ‘but it’s disappointing to see that the money could have been used to improve services that students actually care about, such as counselling.’

Others acknowledge that the Green Heart is an important long-term investment. Roisin suggested that ‘a lot of people might choose to go to this University because of the way the campus looks,’ which she argues makes the spending worthwhile.

Construction of the Green Heart is yet to be fully completed, with a new café and tapas bar expected to open later in the year. However, The Green Heart will host various events throughout 2019, including a weekend-long launch event in June.