Every time you visit Birmingham you visit a new city. Within the meetings and events industry, the skyline of the UK’s second city continues to evolve; stay away too long and you’ll not recognise the place you return to.
The changes within Birmingham are so vast and extensive that the destination has divided its centre into a series of districts, each with its own identity and plan. To the west is the Jewellery Quarter, Westside and Ladywood; to the North, St George’s and St Chad; to the South, Southside and Highgate; and to the East, Digbeth and Eastside.
Each district is evolving continuously and building on the architectural icons already on show within the city, from the mercurial Selfridges building to the stunning Library of Birmingham.
However, within Birmingham’s Eastside there is a story developing on its own. The city has designated the area its ‘Knowledge Quarter’, building on the existing university site of Aston, neighbouring BCU (Birmingham City University) and introducing new knowledge hubs, creative workspaces and learning centres, over the next five years, to become a place identifiable for information transfer and knowledge; from first steps, to work place learning, and into advanced global medical and technical hubs.
The Eastside Rooms is many things: the most connected venue in the UK, the largest pillar free events space in central Birmingham, capable of holding up to 1,200 delegates, and some 2,980 sq m of light airy and contemporary event space, all situated (and connected) next door to a 195 room Aloft Hotel.
But it is also the eastside’s own conference centre, built in keeping with the rich Knowledge Quarter that surrounds it, but taking influence from the cultural story around it.
Throughout the conference centre, there will be nods towards the history of the area, as well as of Birmingham itself. The staff at the eastside rooms, have been recruited from the local community, and only supplemented when needed by global expertise.
The culture is one of positivity, understanding, and appreciation of the power of a great meeting. Bringing people together is important and impactful.
Sport, and specifically water-based sports will also be a theme. The area is currently home to the one of the city’s first ever public baths, now an elite swimming facility, underlining the meeting of historical and contemporary architecture on show in the area. Equally, the canals in the area are both a pleasant break and an easy highway to access football, cricket and rugby, all of which you can find at top level within the city.
To the south is the fashionable area of Digbeth, home to the famous ‘Old Crown’, Birmingham’s oldest pub which dates back to 1368, but also a place where a cultural journey plays out that encompasses everything from Afro Caribbean music and art, Asian fashion, to a globally influenced street food scene. Come 2026, running through the Eastside will be High Speed 2 (HS2) linking North and South, Scotland to England, and make the area one of the most connected in the UK.
Finally, in the centre of the Knowledge Quarter, and within walking distance of both HS2, Central Birmingham and the fashionistas and artisans of Digbeth, is The Eastside Rooms, a new conference venue launching in 2020.
Equally, the food menus are influenced by the cultural story that spans the entire planet, but with produce sourced locally and ethically.
Daal and pakora meet with jerk chicken or goat, vegan impossible burgers are washed down with local ale’s, as well as wines sourced from around the world. It makes for diversity and interest, a talking point over a conference lunch or a celebration banquet.
It makes for an enriching event experience, with organisers able to take inspiration from every aspect of the surrounding area, be it elite sport, medical advancement, technological breakthroughs, or even the genesis of ideas from those that influenced everything from Black Sabbath to The Lord of the Rings.
It’s a place where stories can be found, and where event storytellers can tell new ones of their own. These stories can travel around the local community, up and down the country through HS2 and around the world via the two airports within the region. The eastside story continues in 2020 with the launch of the eastside rooms.