The Tubeworks
Brand Identity | Environmental |

Spaces to connect

The Tubeworks is a former tube and pipe manufacturing factory in the heart of Digbeth, Birmingham — now home to small and medium sized workspaces filled with charm and character, having been converted to offices between 1992-1998.

In late 2023 Oval Real Estate renamed and refurbished The Tubeworks (formerly called The Arch) — to reflect these changes the building required a new identity, signage and wayfinding system. The vibrant new identity harnesses the building’s past but re-purposes it for a contemporary complex of workspaces.

Photography: Tom Bird
Sign-writing: Seven 9 Signs
Print production: WithPrint
Films: El Wheeler

From as early as the sixteenth century, Birmingham was the centre of the UK’s metalworking industry, and Digbeth was its workshop. The competition was as fierce as the flames in the forges, so advertising was plentiful.

Beautifully hand-composed and full of engraved tubes of all shapes and sizes – one in particular stood out – a T-shaped ‘connector tube’ which provided the inspiration for the logo. A modern interpretation of the engraved tubes with a curved wordmark to mirror the entrance archway of the building.


The Tubeworks forms part of the wider Digbeth estate, and as with other buildings in the area, the Digbeth Sans typeface has been the visual thread to tie the buildings together. In this instance a customised version of the inline cut was created by extending the inlines out of the letterforms to mimic tubes.


Colour choices were informed by the materials typically used in the factory, but with a contemporary twist. Fluorescent copper provides a vibrant pop against the more monochromatic metallic shades.

Industrial application

Despite the building’s modern use, the industrial fabric of The Tubeworks still shines through, so the signage scheme harnesses techniques typical of the industrial era with a bespoke fabricated metal sign, made from tubes in the shape of the T, combined with hand-painted signwriting.

Tubes also became a key component of the application, providing a framework for a new tenant board, exterior lighting and a new lighting installation in the entrance archway.

A new wayfinding system to aid visitors and tenants navigating through the development utilises the engraved pipes as directional arrows, completed with copper pipe fixings.

In print, the engraved tube illustrations are arranged in grid sequences with overprinted fluorescent tube cross-sections.

Oval has worked with Common Curiosity on a host of property projects across every possible realm of brand discovery and design – wayfinding, animation, web, film, graphics, storytelling, editorial. The list goes on. They bring a fresh approach to each job and summon new creative ideas with every new challenge; the quality of their work is unquestionable and management of projects and us(!) is consistently efficient and timely. We continually re-engage them on new projects, there could be no firmer proof of endorsement from us.

Clive Watson Head of Creative Oval Real Estate