Back in 2008, Birmingham was voted the UK’s ugliest City. This reputation has hung around the city’s neck for years and has become a long standing joke that everybody (apart from its residents) has had a good laugh at. However, Birmingham, much like myself, has been on a journey in that time and is fast becoming a desirable, metropolitan and dare-I-say, trendy place to live.
In fact, a recent study has shown that many ‘twenty-somethings’ have fled from the capital to the UK’s second city. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show nearly one in ten people in their 30s who left the city between June 2012 and June 2013 fled to Birmingham. Arecord 58,220 within the 30-39 age bracket leaving London 5,480 moved to the ‘ugly duckling’.
Being a photographer in the ‘UK’s ugliest City’ certainly has its challenges. The stark, Brutalist architecture of the 60’s and 70’s can still easily be found throughout the City Centre. As a former Industrial hub, the city has previously shed its skin and looked to the future and adorned itself striking architecture.
The bold, blocky structures such as Birmingham Library and the infamous New Street Station Signal Box are the main offenders in what can be coined as Birmingham’s ‘Grey’ period. A lot of the City’s buildings have been demolished to make way for the kind of stereotypical, glass fronted modern buildings that can be found in every major city in the world.
In my own photographic journey, trying to capture a more beautiful side to Brum’s urban landscape, I have unearthed a strange contradiction to the scornful comments about the bleak wasteland that is Birmingham’s architecture and found that there is some serious love for the former ‘ugliest city’.... Part 2 coming soon....