Green Heart beating in Birmingham

The University of Birmingham’s new high-tech recreational space includes an electricity-generating Pavegen walkway

Willmott Dixon has transformed 12 acres of parkland at the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus into a high-tech recreational space, called the Green Heart.

Tthe reclaimed space includes a Pavegen walkway – claimed to be the first at a UK university – which generates data and off-grid electricity for USB charging point benches. It also boasts comprehensive wifi coverage and digital information totems.

Alongside the new technology is recreational space featuring native flowers and wild plants, 160 new trees and nesting sites, plus spaces for performances and events, markets, a café and bar, and dedicated areas for art and sculptures. The project has also restored historic walkways, as envisaged in the university’s original 1920s design.

The development also enhances step-free access across the campus, while paving has been specifically designed with tapping points for white stick users.

The Pavegen walkway provides a versatile platform that converts users’ footfall into off-grid energy to power local applications. Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen

Nick Gibb, director of Willmott Dixon in the Midlands, said: “The University of Birmingham is exceedingly forward-thinking in terms of deliverable and sustainable technology; the implementation of the Pavegen system, in particular, is a real step forward.”

Pavegen CEO and founder, Laurence Kemball-Cook, said: “We are proud to play our part in this fantastic development, embracing design and the latest technology to provide a unique environment for the University of Birmingham community. The Pavegen walkway provides a versatile platform that converts users’ footfall into off-grid energy to power local applications – we are monitoring it via a cloud-based platform.”

The Green Heart was designed by Churchman Landscape Architects, with support from Associated Architects. The lighting was designed by Speers and Major, with other key roles in the development undertaken by Couch Perry Wilkes, Arup and Currie and Brown.

The development will be celebrated in June with a weekend-long launch event, followed by 12 months of activities in the space as it matures through the four seasons.