Bridging nature and community with a renewed space at Martineau Gardens.

Edgbaston, Birmingham
RIBA Work Stage
0 – ongoing (Planning Application submitted August 2023)
  • Project Lead
  • Architect
  • Principal Designer
APEC Architects are working with Martineau Gardens to design a replacement staff and volunteer building including new education and community space.

Martineau Gardens is a registered charity offering therapeutic horticulture and educational activities at their site, an oasis of wildlife, less than two miles from Birmingham city centre. Being open daily to visitors, the success of the charity is dependent on its committed volunteers, who take care of the gardens and run a range of workshops and courses.


The staff at the gardens were based in the Mollie Martineau Building, a building that was intended to be a temporary solution over fifty years ago. It was recently removed as it wasn’t fit for purpose, being unheated, in poor condition, and with no sanitary provisions. APEC Architects were commissioned to develop proposals for its replacement.


The design process included an intense period of engagement with staff, volunteers, visitors and the wider community, People from all backgrounds connect with the gardens, and it was clear that it has a distinct quality of being homely and welcoming everyone.

Along with new staff and volunteer facilities, the brief that evolved includes an indoor education space and community area, as well as a new hothouse. It was also recognised that the architecture should be designed in a way that staff, volunteers and visitors can make it their own with planting and artwork, once the building construction is complete. 

The proposal aims to nest within the natural surroundings of the gardens and complement the existing buildings on the site. The architectural form echoes the sentiments of the community in its façade treatment and roof design. It was important that environmental sustainability was at the forefront of the design process. The Red Cedar shingles and Corten steel will weather over time, give a naturally evolving aesthetic to the building, and embrace imperfections.

We all come here with our imperfections, and realise we are not here to iron them out but to embrace and accept them. That’s what we want this new building to convey too.

VolunteerComment at Engagement Session