Today, Fazeley Studios is a workplace for the digital age, a place where the city’s most innovative, forward-thinking companies are coming up with the ideas that will revolutionise all areas of our 21st century lives.
However, the buildings that make up Fazeley Studios actually date back over 150 years to the industrial revolution, in the days when Birmingham was known as the workshop of the world.
Here’s the story of Fazeley Studios and the creative and digital district of Digbeth that’s its home.
THE DIGBETH STORY
In the late 1980s, Digbeth was an area of dereliction and post industrial urban decay, filled with beautiful but neglected historical buildings.
All this began to change in 1993 when our sister project, The Custard Factory, refurbished a collection of riverside Victorian factories, where Alfred Bird once manufactured his pioneering instant custard, and opened its doors to the city’s artists, musicians and creative entrepreneurs.
Digbeth quickly become the centre of the city’s creative economy. Over subsequent years, further phases were added to The Custard Factory, along with a number of other standalone media studios, and the Digbeth working community grew. Today it is home to 400 businesses employing 2,000 people. Around the creative businesses, a whole lifestyle scene has sprung up with independent shops, art galleries, bars, salons and weekly street food events with Digbeth Dining Club.
As the creative economy shifted towards digital, the profile of Digbeth businesses changed. In 2008 we launched Fazeley Studios to provide flexible, aspirational spaces to suit these high growth digital companies and their way of working. The studios launched with a glittering party for 600 of the city’s creatives in 2008 and, despite opening its doors at the height of the economic crisis, it was full within a year.
Fazeley Studios’ showpiece space is its Grand Gallery reception, a beautifully renovated 19th century Unitarian Chapel. Beside the grand gallery is the oldest part of the building, a Unitarian Sunday school dating from 1865, now holding a spacious conference room and boutique, character studios.
Walk through the grand gallery, past the Social and into the landscaped courtyard, and you will see a series of 1920s factories, which have redeveloped into bright, airy, open plan studio offices.
The creation of outstanding public spaces is essential to ensure that our resident businesses get the most out of being based in the creative and digital heart of the city, with plenty of opportunities to meet, network and launch new collaborations.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
Today we have a fantastic community of tenants from Maverick TV (How to Look Good Naked/Embarrassing Bodies) to Film Nation UK, Rice Media, Madison Soho, Time Etc and One Black Bear and it’s getting bigger all the time.
The BBC has chosen Fazeley Studios as the home of its new digital innovation unit, the Guerilla Group. Soon, HS2 will create further seismic change. The new Curzon Station will be on the Doorstep of Digbeth, five minutes walk from Fazeley Studios, and as part of the regeneration surrounding it we’ll be getting landscaped pedestrian walkways, cycle routes, a metro line and even a sky park.