Selfridges’ silver discs are coming down and the reaction is brilliant


The silver discs on the exterior of Selfridges were expected to last 30 years when the Bullring shopping centre was opened on September 4, 2003.

But with dozens of them having been taken off in the last two years to leave its world-famous teenage exterior looking more than a little bit pockmarked, a major refresh is underway.

Reader Mikey Clewer said the discs could now be used as spare dinner plates at Christmas.

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Another eagle-eyed citizen has been keeping count of ‘the missing’.

Jae Jay added: “The ‘discs’ have been going missing/falling off for ages. Knew it would happen when they were put up in the first place. The highest number I have seen missing was 29. Still at least it keeps the “mountaineering” repair team in practice.”

Angelo Casthilho Patinho added: “I’m not insinuating that he stole it… but Captain America had one…where he got if from I do not know…”

Following our story about work beginning to give the 17-year-old building a dazzling polish, readers have been posting comments galore on our BirminghamLive Facebook page about the transformation.

Some have offered their views about how they think the building looks, while others have been cracking some fabulous jokes.

Two years after we first began to report on the store’s missing discs, the Selfridges building must be doing something right, then!

We’ve posted a selection of them below, but first…

What is happening to Selfridges?

Builders have started to build a wall of scaffolding along Park Street.

They are getting ready to coat the building with a protective cover designed by Birmingham fashion designer Osman Yousefzada in conjunction with Ikon Gallery

Its new exterior will be an eye-catching pink and black jigsaw-style design called ‘Dogtooth Flower’.

When some readers thought that was how the finished building would look, Judy Hinder Allen posted: “It’s only covering the scaffolding whilst the discs are cleaned. Don’t panic!”

All of the building’s silver discs will be taken off and the original Yves Klein blue colour repainted before the disks are then reattached.

Selfridges will carry on trading during the overhaul – lockdowns permitting of course – but there may be some local disruptions to traffic.

The work is expected to take more than a year but will help the Bullring’s most iconic building to look shiny and new again ready for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in just 21 months’ time.

The Games will be hosting basketball and beach volleyball on the currently derelict former Birmingham Wholesale Markets’ site on the other side of Upper Dean Street.

And if the athletic curves of the stars aren’t attention grabbing enough, there will always be the famous outline of Selfridges in the background to add a touch of extra sparkle in the summer sunshine.

What you have been saying about the transformation

Mikey Clewer: Might start using them as spare dinner plates for when family come round at Christmas time in the future

Jim Burton: “When all the discs fall off does this indicate the expiry date?”

Steve Hewitt: “The issue with the building is its location. It’s just wasted on some people. If it had been in Barcelona it would have been revered. In Birmingham people ‘just don’t like it’ – each to their own.”

John Robinson: “I’ve seen a few of them on the pavement and hoped they don’t fall off as I walk underneath them. Death by retail isn’t how I want to pop off.”

Andy Deeley: “My kids have always called it the pins building.I like it, its distinctive, nice to have something different from the norm.”

Harold Langford: “To think that with all the modern techniques available to modern builders and this abomination is the best they can come up with just makes me want to weep – It symbolises all that is wrong with modern Britain!”

Sean Rigney: “Always thought when first built that those discs could have been solar discs to power the building.”

Nick Smith: “Great buildings improve with age, while monstrosities like this get worse and cost money!”

Graeme Burrows: “Designed by someone with no idea on cost conservation, a bit like the new library building, massive upkeep costs for someone’s fancy.”

Lee Slater: “About time they took the bubble wrap off – been open years.”

Gary Steventon: “Absolute eyesore from the day construction began was always going to be an expensive folly.”

Carl Pemberton: “One of the most out of place looking buildings in Brum… Simply ridiculous.! How that was classed as iconic or artistic, is beyond me. Planners had lost the plot.”

Jason O’Brien: “That’s what happens when you try to be too different – can’t beat classical buildings that survive the tests of time. Quirky buildings such as Selfridges and the Library soon date and look garish.”

Barry Towers: “More money being fleeced, if you pay cheap you pay twice, you can’t get away with it if you charge twice first. All these new buildings are cash cows for certain companies, who’s supplying the funding for it all in the first place?”

Philip Kavanagh: “Seems a futile gesture, what with the rising costs of parking and the new congestion charge making the city centre unviable……£20+ spend before you even get to a shop.”

Christmas in Birmingham 2020

Abigail Liagiba: “It would be nice covered in moss and ferns.”

Wendy Jane Jordan: “Personally never liked the whole disc thing. Kind of reminded me of when you push a load of drawing pins in to something. I get that it’s iconic but just looks a bit out of place to me.”

Dawn Ward: “The most HIDEOUS thing ever built!!! Don’t fit in with Birmingham City Centre at all!! Look at all the character in the old buildings, Beautiful!!! That looks like a giant SLUG!!! An Eyesore and dangerous ta boot!!!  I suppose ALIENS could be nicking the silver disks!!”

Linda Robinson: “Awful building, spending more money that Birmingham hasn’t got on things that don’t matter, whilst other city’s keep their old buildings and work round them,Birmingham knocks them all down to build monstrosities like the Selfridge’s building.”

Diane Holliday-Smith: “Horrible, not in keeping at all, also dwarfs the lovely St Martin’s church.”

Sameera Khan: “You will see everything disappear when the green air zone charges come in place.”

Teresa Beacham: “It’s been an eyesore since it was built, very disappointed to read that they are just replacing the discs and the hideous building will remain the same. I never understood how it was allowed to be built this way.”

Katie Louise Wilkes: “I called this the beehive when I first went to Birmingham.”

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