University building shortlisted for prestigious architecture award

A Victorian building in Wolverhampton, which was given a new lease of life to become a learning hub for students, has been shortlisted for a prestigious architecture award.

The Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) Hub has been shortlisted in the Building Conservation and Regeneration categories at this year’s RICS West Midlands awards.

The hub, based at the £100 million Springfield Campus in Wolverhampton – formerly a brewery but derelict for over 20 years and bought by the University of Wolverhampton in 2014  was transformed thanks to Wolverhampton-based architects,  Tweedale Ltd.

The building, which had been constructed in the early 1880s, was originally used as the Springfield Brewery stables, and later as a vehicle garage and repair shop for brewery vehicles. Since the brewery closed, more than 20 years ago, the former stables deteriorated, despite being listed as buildings of architectural or historical importance.

Today, having been fully refurbished, it is used as an employer-led training facility to enhance productivity in the region’s manufacturing sector. Nick Chapman, an Associate from Tweedale Ltd, said it was an interesting and challenging project to work on. “It is great that this amazing building has been shortlisted for such a high-profile award – we are looking forward to the awards ceremony in May,” he said.

“There were a few challenges while working on this project, as we wanted to retain as much of the existing building as possible. While we managed to retain the majority of the timber and iron roof trusses, along with the brickwork arches, the existing first floor had to be totally reconstructed and extended.  We used materials to compliment the existing character of the building, and considerable time was spent on the project by carpenters and stonemasons using specialist techniques under the watchful eye of conservation officers.”

The ECMS has four sites across the Black Country, with the other spoke sites in Tipton, Dudley and Walsall. The centre’s development is led by the University of Wolverhampton, in collaboration with the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (BCLEP), Dudley College, Cast Metals Federation, Confederation of British Metalforming, Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and In-Comm Training and Business Services.

Ian Fitzpatrick, chief executive of the ECMS, said: “As we welcome our first cohort of apprentices to the centre it is wonderful to see one of the hubs being shortlisted for such an impressive award – well done to Tweedale for its work on this amazing building.

“The University of Wolverhampton, with partner organisations, has created these state-of-the-art facilities, which is now delivering an array of manufacturing skills. This provision didn’t exist in the Black Country and so the centre is helping to support the continued transformation of the Black Country economy by upskilling the current and future workforce, and helping to close skills gaps identified by employers.”

The RICS Awards 2019, West Midlands takes place on May 8th at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. For more information go to