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Willmott Dixon builds wifi walkway

22 January 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: A team from Willmott Dixon join colleagues from the University of Birmingham to open the new high-tech green space.

Willmott Dixon has built a high-tech recreational space including a walkway that provides wifi and generates off-grid electricity at the University of Birmingham.

The space, dubbed the Green Heart, sits in 12 acres of parkland and uses a Pavegen walkway to generate electricity from walkers’ footfall for USB charging point benches.

It also has comprehensive wifi coverage and digital information totems.

Alongside the new technology, the recreational space features native flowers and wild plants as well as 160 new trees and nesting sites, as well as spaces for performances, events, markets, a café and bar and areas for art and sculptures.

Willmott Dixon has also overseen the restoration of historic walkways as envisaged in the university’s original design from the early 1900s.

There is also enhanced step-free access across the campus while paving has been specifically designed with tapping points for white stick users.

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 and the implementation of the Pavegen system in particular is a real step forward.

“I’m excited for the Green Heart Festival later in the year, where we’ll celebrate our joint vision for the space coming to life, with students, staff and communities enjoying the space to its full potential.”

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.

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