Corby Cube\

A town hall for the 21st century

The Corby Cube is a truly new paradigm for civic buildings in an age of austerity. It demonstrates that world class public facilities can be sustainable and at the very heart of a community’s proactive regeneration.

A catalyst for change in Corby

In 2010 Corby Borough Council was tackling decades of decline, and determined to dramatically regenerate the town. In this same year the Comprehensive Spending Review announced cuts of some 26% to local government funding, pushing councils to rationalise their estates and deliver services more efficiently and effectively. Corby council’s original brief was for an arts building and a civic centre on adjacent sites to create a gateway between the town centre and the historic parkland to the west. Between them the two buildings had to house a flexible theatre, an arts and studio space, a public library, restaurant, café and bars, a council one-stop-shop, and a council chamber and offices.

“Executed brilliantly… A real coup for Corby”

British Theatre Guide on Blackout

Two buildings in one

Our ambitious vision for the project challenged this approach and combined the individual briefs to create a lively 24-hour hub. Our proposal promised to attract a wider visitor audience and increase operational efficiencies whilst simultaneously releasing one of the two sites for future development. Our design concept was to combine the disparate and unique functions of the building within the pure geometric form of a cube.

“This is the most astonishing building. It is a 21st century town hall… I can say this is the most dynamic civic centre not just in this region but across the country.”

Phil Hope, Former MP for Corby

Mixing up the uses

Internally, the public uses are arranged around an accessible public route. Starting with the gentle inclined floor of the library that delivers visitors to the One-Stop-Shop at first floor, the promenade continues via a “lazy” linear stair, and culminates in a sculptural helical staircase that links the civic spaces with a rooftop garden.

The journey from street to roof garden takes place through increasingly intimate spaces that respond to the changing functions of the building. A range of routes connect the building and make it open and permeable, whilst spaces within each floor retain a distinct character. Efficient space planning was balanced with thoughtfully positioned lightwells and voids to construct views and vistas, and exploit the 3D geometry of the building.

Inside the box

A public building with so many services must be easy and instinctive to navigate, and the interior design of the project was always central to the success of the concept. We used interior design to communicate the formal and the informal areas of the building, and to distinguish between communal and intimate spaces.

Robust permanent elements such as the concrete walls are accentuated with flashes of vibrant colour from soft furnishings, bespoke designed joinery and bold graphics, to create a contemporary and accessible atmosphere, and a visually rewarding environment for everyone.

Integrated architectural details such as the private study areas, the casual seating within the library, and the carefully concealed usher seats in the theatre, ensure that the building works on both an urban and a human scale.

At the heart of the building is The Core, a fresh contemporary take on the traditional playhouse theatre. We used a rich palette of walnut and plush fabrics to capture some of the old-style glamour of a night at the theatre, and the seating arrangement is deliberately intimate to encourage audience interaction.

“There is much sound thinking behind The Core, in architectural, theatrical and social terms. Just ask anyone who lives in Corby.”

The Stage

At the heart of Corby's regeneration

The Cube is set within a new town square that has become the social and civic heart of Corby, and is accessed from Corby Walk, a new tree-lined avenue that links historic woodland to the west with the town centre and the new station to the east. From the outset we worked closely with adjacent sites and consultants to ensure that we were fully joined up to create a diverse new urban quarter and vibrant public realm in the heart of the town.


more library members
since relocating to Corby Cube

“There are few better examples of the belief that the arts can help to regenerate urban centres than the opening last year of The Core at Corby Cube, a multi-use cultural centre in the Northamptonshire town of Corby.”

Financial Times

  • Project Details
  • Did You Know?
  • Materials
  • Sustainability
  • Drawings
  • Social Value

Project Summary

Project Team

Max Fordham LLP
Grant Associates
Gardiner & Theobald
RBA Acoustics
PFB Construction Management Services


  • Civic Trust Awards 2012 - Commendation
  • FX International Interior Design Awards 2011 - Best Public Building - Winner
  • RICS Awards 2011 - National Award, Regeneration - Shortlisted
  • RICS Awards 2011 - East Midlands Region, Project of the Year - Shortlisted
  • Regeneration and Renewal Awards 2011 - Mixed Use Developments - Shortlisted
  • Regeneration and Renewal Awards 2011 - Design Excellence - Shortlisted
  • East Midlands Property Awards 2011 - Design Excellence - Shortlisted
  • British Construction Industry Awards 2011 - Building Project £3m - £50m - Shortlisted
  • Concrete Society Awards 2011 - Commendation
  • International Property Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television 2011 - Best Mixed Use Architecture, UK - Winner
  • International Property Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television 2011 - Best Public Service Architecture, UK - Winner
  • International Property Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television 2011 - Best Mixed Use Architecture, Northamptonshire - Winner
  • International Property Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television 2011 - Best Public Service Architecture , Northamptonshire - Winner
  • Building Design Awards 2011 - Public Building Architect of the Year - Shortlisted
  • AJ100 Awards 2010 - Sustainable Practice of the Year - Shortlisted

Did You Know?

As part of the 2010 London Festival of Architecture, ‘Cor-bee Cube’ - a bespoke 21st century hive - featured in a temporary window installation in Oasis’s Regent Street store. This innovative project was born out of a collaboration between the international retailer, world-renowned artists Bob and Roberta Smith and Hawkins\Brown.


The Cube has a striking façade, and deliberately so; its vertical glass stripes stand tall across the skyline as a symbol of regeneration.

Using a palette of six different glass types, together with stainless steel flashings to frame key openings, each of the building’s four elevations are unique, yet part of the same unifying language. The primary public functions – entrance, library and council chamber are clearly expressed, and above eye-level deliberate incisions are carved out of the façade to reveal the elevated external spaces. The richly articulated composition carefully reveals the building's diverse functions. The crisp glazing reflects the activities in the surrounding square throughout the day. At night the building is transformed as the impact of the façade diminishes with the fading light, and The Cube’s interior environments are fully revealed.


The façade is key to the environmental performance of the building, and is primarily controlled by the building's independent environmental management system to provide natural ventilation. Inhabited spaces such as the library, council chamber and offices are arranged around the building perimeter where they are best placed to take advantage of natural light, ventilation and passive cooling at night.

At the heart of the building is The Core, a contemporary take on the traditional playhouse theatre, and the first theatre in the country to be awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating.


Social Value

Our approach to social value goes way beyond architecture, it’s about improving the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of places to positively transform people’s lives, all while delivering commercial value for our clients.

Our researcher Michael Riebel, with the support of experts Hatch/Regeneris, has revisited six of our completed projects including Corby Cube and applied a broad range of socio-economic metrics. You can download the case study

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