James Watt Campus, Birmingham Metropolitan College

Location background

One of the biggest colleges in the UK, Birmingham Metropolitan College consists of 13 different sites which include the extensive James Watt Campus to the north west of the city.

A centre of excellence for work-based training, parts of the James Watt Campus date from the 1950s and since 2013 work has been carried out to modernise and improve facilities. This has included transforming the site’s infrequently-used auditorium into new space for students and staff to work in and meet on a daily basis.


Given the auditorium’s central location, architects Bryant Priest Newman (BPN) wanted to ensure the new Learning Resource Centre became the heart of the campus by not only providing a new hub but also access to other key areas of the college.

Having consulted with construction students at the campus, the decision had been taken to strip back the building to reveal its steel frame and original brickwork.

The lighting scheme was required to complement both the industrial architecture and the modern additions which included pods for meeting and studying and a first floor timber bridge linking the back of the area to new study floors on and above the former stage.

BPN was also keen to for the lighting scheme to subtly distinguish the different areas intended for students, staff and sponsors.

Lighting solution

At the heart of the solution produced by Robertson Cartwright Design was Phi’s highly-versatile, linear Stria fitting which was used throughout the areas intended for general access by students.

Across the ground floor reception and entrance to the centre, rows of Stria fittings are suspended in parallel whilst in adjoining corridors and walkways they are set at angles which not only distinguishes these areas, but also adds interest and a contemporary look.

On the computer work stations located throughout the ground floor and stage areas, Stria is mounted at a low level across the centre of the tables to provide desktop lighting.

High-level lighting is provided by recessed Stria in the base of the modern, black timber bridge link and flush-mounted Stria fittings in the mezzanine floor above the stage.

Stria’s versatility is demonstrated further on the floor above where it is suspended in the gaps between the timbers on the top of the bridge link, and also used for wall-mounted lighting.

Further use of recessed Stria is made in two pod meeting rooms where further flush-mounting helps to accentuate the clean lines of box-like facilities which are made available for use by sponsors.

Staff study areas on the ground and first floors are separated not only by glazing but by different luminaires – Phi’s stylish Plus+ is a flatter, wider, suspended fitting that also offers a highly-efficient LED light engine with direct/indirect distribution.

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