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Premier Inn, Exchange Square, Birmingham

Project size
14-storey 235-bed hotel
stephenson hamilton risley STUDIO
Fire engineer
Design Fire Consultants
McAleer & Rushe


Careful planning marries utmost safety and striking design

Part of Nikal’s £350m Masshouse Masterplan, Exchange Square is a brand-new urban community comprising apartments, shops, cafes, restaurants, and now a 235-bed hotel.

Completion of the 14-storey Premier Inn comes at the end of Exchange Square’s two-phase development. Located just a few minutes’ walk from Birmingham Curzon Street Station – soon to be the heart of the HS2 network in the West Midlands – it is strategically positioned at the new ‘front door’ to Birmingham for those arriving by train. Part of Birmingham’s progressive Eastside, it also sits on the doorstep of the city’s main hub of universities and colleges.

We were appointed to provide building control services for the high-rise hotel development. Discussions with the fire engineer, the fire authority, the contractor, and the architect – stephenson hamilton risley STUDIO – began in 2019, well over a year before building work began on site. As with any high-rise development housing a vast amount of people, fire safety was critical.

These early strategic meetings paved the way for a smooth build process, as agreements around essential fire safety features were committed to well in advance. Our expertise in fire safety ensured that building materials, exit routes, the firefighting lift, dry risers, ventilation, and firefighting strategy were key to discussions.

Richard Cymler, our regional director based in Birmingham, said: “In a development such as this, working with an expert team of Approved Inspectors from the very early days is critical. In a structure of this height, fire safety is complex. We are well past the limit for placing ladders on the external façade of a building, so the design and location of the firefighting lift alone requires intricate planning.

“Our goal is always to achieve the safest build possible, and with careful forward planning, it’s possible to marry utmost safety with excellent aesthetic design. It’s an exciting time for Birmingham, with Exchange Square at the heart of a new community, and we’re proud to have played our part in this development.”

Adam Toal, project manager at McAleer & Rushe, added: “The insight we received was critical for our plans. We opted to seek their advice as early in the process as possible, meaning that the safety of the building was always front of mind and could be ensured without compromising other design elements. We were a key partner in the project and made it as simple as possible for us to gain building regulations approval.”