Hawkins\Brown’s striking glazed Corby Cube, the focal point of a major regeneration programme to revitalise the former steel making town in Northants, UK has completed and is now open to the public.
Won in international competition in 2004, the Corby Cube combines a diverse programme of civic and arts uses into a new model for civic architecture.
Maximising its central location at the heart of a new town square, the building’s array of uses are arranged around an internal promenade architecturale’ composed into a coherent glazed cube form with four ‘live’ elevations, each articulating the uses contained within.
Commissioned by Corby Borough Council, the Corby Cube is part of a wider regeneration strategy driven by North Northants Development Company to revitalise Corby as a vibrant, confident and attractive town to live, work, visit, shop and do business.
Not since Corby’s expansion in 1950 when it was afforded New Town status has the town benefitted from such investment. Recent developments include the arrival of the town’s first railway station and the opening of a new Olympic sized public swimming pool on the site adjacent to the Cube. The two buildings sit within a new landscaped town square that links the former town centre to historic woodland in the West and promises to become the new social heart of Corby town centre.
At a time of spending reviews and central funding cuts the Cube represents a model for how local authorities can address financial challenges through the consolidation and streamlining of their services. The competition brief originally called for two buildings; a civic hub and an arts centre, which together would mark a gateway between the town centre and the parkland beyond. Hawkins\Brown’s innovative response was to combine these two briefs into a single building. This proposal provided multiple benefits in terms of sharing common facilities and infrastructure to realise savings in capital and running costs, the fostering of synergetic relationships between the various users, whilst also freeing up a further site for redevelopment. The resultant 7,700 sq m building features a mix of facilities including:
• A 450-seat theatre with front of house foyers and bars
• A multifunctional studio space
• A ground floor Café
• A modern well-equipped Library
• Corby Borough Council One-Stop-Shop and civic offices
• Council Chamber which provides a marriage venue for civil ceremonies
• Terraced Roof Garden with adjacent exhibition space or restaurant
Corby Cube breaks the tradition of a formal town hall situated at the head of the town square and is instead located in the centre of the new square with four active fronts. An external envelope of black and reflective glass gives the building its characteristic glistening object-like form. Each elevation is distinctively articulated within this: the North elevation is animated by the projected transparent glazed entrance foyer; the East elevation by a double- height window into the council chamber; a cantilevered reading room projects out of the first floor of the South elevation providing shade to café’; and the West elevation expresses the library within. The pure form of the building is unobstructed by service entrances and plant which are contained in a below ground undercroft.
Treating the roof as a fifth elevation, generous public roof terraces on the building’s upper levels are planted with full-size trees and feature sedum and brown roofs to enhance the site’s ecology.
All facilities are arranged around an internal route coiled inside the cube form, allowing access for all. Many facilities have a ground floor presence and are inextricably linked, arranged around a continuous route, which rises from the foyer through the building and culminates in a helical stair leading to the rooftop terrace. The building combines uses to ensure activity around the clock, from early morning visitors to the library and café to late night performances in the theatre.