STEAMhouse is located on Digbeth High Street in Birmingham City Centre. It is the first phase of a two phase project which runs until 2019.
STEAMhouse (Phase 1) is a creative innovation centre with the aim of brokering collaborative relationships between businesses, academics, arts and creative industries to support innovation and prototyping activity for social and economic benefit. The centre will demonstrate how arts and creativity can be combined with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) to drive innovation, skills, research, and economic growth.
STEAMhouse is led by Birmingham City University in partnership with Eastside Projects, and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England through the Creative Local Growth Fund. It is themed around the growth sectors of low carbon, health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and creative and digital, as part of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) strategy.
The 15,000 sq ft centre occupies a new fabrication facility in the areas of digital, wood, metal, and print to assist in taking ideas forward to creation. It also includes meeting and co-working spaces, a lab-based learning area, and large scale making and fabrication spaces, as well as support to SMEs working in gaming. It provides support to SMEs and new enterprises from the GBSLEP region which includes Birmingham, Solihull, North Worcs and South Staffs to develop new products and services through workshops, grants, engagement events, and research cooperations with academics.
It has foundations rooted in open systems and focussed on enquiry based learning, encouraging collective problem solving through a STEAM based interdisciplinary innovation model.
1.2 Venue features and limitations
Due to the temporary nature of the project and the limitations around refurbishment, we have undertaken all reasonable adjustments appropriate to the scale of the initiative.
The centre is ideally located within a number of public transport hubs including being on a network of local bus services. There are secure cycle storage, lockers, and shower facilities for users, and information on journey planning via public transport for new users. The centre features free Wi-Fi and limited car parking spaces, including a space for disabled users.
All public spaces are located on the ground floor and are wheelchair accessible.
Due to the original construction of the building, the area with limited wheelchair access is restricted to the mezzanine level occupied by staff desks and hot desks. Reasonable provision has been considered for staff and hot desk users so as to remove the physical feature and so not putting any disabled staff members at substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.
Legislation to address access issues for persons with disabilities has developed towards specific duties whereby operators of public buildings have a duty to offer access to all persons the same level of service in gaining access to buildings and facilities, together with an anticipatory responsibility to consider that the ‘next person entering their facility might have some form of disability’.
2.1 External Approach
The centre is located 650metres from the main BCU campus and 1km from New Street Station. It is located within 130metres from the nearest bus stop. Buses serving the venue currently are 17, 35, 50, 50A, 58, 59, 59S, 60, 73, 97, 97A, 150, X1, and X2.
There are no issues related to pavement to and from the venue.
An accessible parking bay for blue badge holders can be found at the gated entrance off Digbeth High Street immediately to the left on entry through the gate and flanking the right of the STEAMhouse building. Entrance into the venue is the main entrance door facing the high street.
The surface between the car parking bays and the front entrance is paved with no obstacles to the front entrance door.
2.2 Entrance Doors
The front entrance is raised from the ground level to a height of 15cm.
There is a security guard available to open the door upon knocking on the door. We have plans to introduce an intercom system in the future to ease access.
A portable ramp will be supplied to wheelchair users to gain smooth access through the front entrance door.
The front entrance door is manually operable and opens inwards once access is granted from security. The double door opening is 190cm wide.
Internal doors are manually operable and wheelchair accessible. Internal door openings are minimum 80cm wide.
2.3 Reception Arrangements
The security/reception desk is visible on entry, situated at the main entrance. It has a lowered section.
There are no permanent facilities for hearing impaired visitors. A portable hearing loop may only be recommended to be located at the reception desk with appropriate signage visible to users who require it based on demand and assessment.
The lighting levels are good and little background noise, only increased by large numbers of co-workers in the nearby co-working space.
All staff members have equality training and have a good understanding of disability issues and needs of users. Training for staff includes health and safety, equal opportunities, safeguarding among a range of other mandatory training programmes.
2.4 Access within the Building
Access for users with mobility restrictions is limited to the ground floor as there is no lift access to the mezzanine level which is the only upper level for staff and staff hot-desk users. Reasonable adjustments are in place to support staff members in this case.
There is a small self-service kitchen area on the ground floor in the public co-working space.
Key access is required to enter the member areas which include the lab space and workshop facilitates.
There is technical support for making and prototyping.
2.5 General Facilities
An accessible toilet is located in the public co-working space with appropriate facilities such as grab rails and an emergency pull cord 45cm from floor level. An activated alarm will ring through to the reception desk which is manned during opening hours.
Assistance dogs are welcome to visitors using the facility.
Due to the specialist nature of the workshop facilities a safety assessment will be required when using workshop spaces for people with access requirements.
Lighting levels vary throughout the members’ areas. This depends on whether they are external or internal rooms. Internal rooms are served by artificial lighting. Internal spaces include the lab space, the print room, a members’ meeting room, and the digital workshop.
It is likely that there may be some external noise due to the nature of the facility. Particularly the wood workshop. Guidance should be sort from a technician should assistance be required.
There is a Disabled Persons Refuge Point at the rear of the building stating the safe evacuation plan.
Lockers are located towards the rear of the coworking space and in the corridor of the access controlled Production Space.
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