Inside: Acivico's NEC transformation

By Andrew Woods
An Acivico architect has been at the heart of the NEC’s £4.5million transformation by supplying concept designs for the stunning and technically inno...

An Acivico architect has been at the heart of the NEC’s £4.5million transformation by supplying concept designs for the stunning and technically innovative pyramid formations which will completely change the look and feel of Birmingham’s iconic premier international conference and leisure venue.

Using the latest design software, Principal Architect Alan McBeth developed three gigantic custom designed trapezoidal shapes, each the size of a three-story house. When connected, these form a 3D wall of 37 units, reinventing and giving life to the flat facades on five of the halls, originally constructed in 1976.

Using state-of-the-art membrane technology and a healthy dose of imagination, the vision was for the facade to be covered with stretched membranes combined with colourful vector graphics panels, positioned between the 3D trapezoidal shapes.

The final colour changing boulder pattern was designed and supplied by international PR and advertising firm McCann whose programmable LED animated backlighting has created a dynamic and engaging environment for the 7 million annual visitors to the campus… but it’s at night that guests can really see the complex come to life.  Acivico has used graphic visualisation technology to share the display.

You can take a fly through the pyramids here;

Alan McBeth has been delighted with the results of this unique and original approach to facade design on such a high-profile landmark project. Alan said;

“The design required the use of the latest in tensile fabric innovation from within the UK and we found the print graphics specialist in Holland – the only company in the world who could print the polyester fabric which covers the trapezoids to the correct lifespan requirement.

“The magnitude of this work has to be seen to be appreciated, but it is very scaleable and there is no doubt this type of design treatment can be applied to give an economical facelift to other aging buildings, large or small, in need of some TLC.”

Martin Clarke, NEC Marketing Director says; “We are delighted with the outcome of these concept designs by Acivico. The team understood the brief perfectly and came up with a unique concept using innovative technology which they brought to life using superb 3D visuals. The finished results are stunning”

The NEC’s ‘project facelift’ will be officially revealed with the launch of the Bear Grylls adventure world in October 2018.



Technical facts and figures;

  • The building facades are very large with Hall 5 alone being 210m long x 19m high.
  • Considerable research was done to identify the best design solution using different types of membrane fabrics that would work well with 3D geometric backlit shapes.
  • The pyramids are covered in a printed polyester fabric with an ultra violet acrylic protection layer with at least a 10 year no fade lifespan. This process was carried out by a specialist in Holland – the only company in the world with the expertise to complete the project.
  • The challenge was to design something that looks as good at night as during the day as many of the events around the NEC occur during the evening.


Statistics – NEC  

  • The revamp includes installations on 37 trapezoidal 5m wide translucent shapes, each the size of a three-storey house.
  • Each trapezoid has three powerful led floodlights that are programmable to produce any colour, including a sonic interface.
  • The installation also includes 62 x 5m wide graphic panels – each 10m high
  • The projects also included the installation of 12277 m² specially designed metal cladding (known as zebra cladding) - almost 3 football pitches worth

Featured Articles

Arcadis signs collaboration with Canadian start-up Niricson

Agreement will combine Arcadis’ expertise with Niricson’s predictive analytics platform to develop a non-invasive way to safely inspect and monitor concret

Italy’s Cannon Artes wins $31m Egyptian desalination project

Turnkey contract win from SOPC will see Italian firm deliver an integrated desalination & demineralisation plant as part of modernisation of Suez refinery

Saudi Arabia to build three new stadiums for Asian Cup 2027

Tournament will be hosted across three cities and 10 stadiums, SAFF says

Neoen’s Storen Power Reserve begins construction in Sweden

Construction Projects

Masdar works with African countries on renewable projects

Construction Projects

Select Group awards US$816.7m in construction contracts

Construction Projects