Le Corbusier and Corby. What’s the connection between the great architect and the former steelmaking town in Northamptonshire, UK? Le Corb is, of course, ‘The Crow’, and the old name for the town was ‘Corbie’ or raven. As part of an art programme Corby are creating a superhero to be named ‘Raven Man’ – the world needs more architect superheroes.
The Corby Cube, designed by Hawkins\Brown Architects, combines a diverse programme of civic and arts uses into a new model for civic architecture intended as the focal point of a regeneration and revitalization of the town. 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. The 7,700-sq.m building features: 450-seat theatre with front of house foyers and bars; multi-functional studio space; Café; Library; Corby Borough Council One-Stop-Shop and civic offices; Council Chamber (also a marriage venue for civil ceremonies); Terraced Roof Garden with adjacent exhibition space or restaurant. The competition brief originally called for two buildings; a civic hub and an arts centre, to mark a gateway between the town centre and the parkland beyond. Hawkins\Brown created a single building providing multiple savings and sharing benefits and the fostering of synergetic relationships between the users, whilst also freeing up a further site for redevelopment.
Nayan Kulkarni was appointed Consultant Artist for ‘Connect’, part of the Parkland Gateway Public Art Programme, managed by Louise O’Reilly Visual Arts, to create new artworks reflecting Corby ‘s identity. The cultural development included a swimming pool and leisure centre designed by S&P Architects, and the Corby Cube theatre and civic hub designed by Hawkins\Brown. For the swimming pool Kulkarni created Shimmer, a 150-sq.m iridescent blue artwork composed of over 500 panels made of a bespoke mix of polyester glitter, and illuminated by LED lights designed by Carbon Lighting Ltd, that create bright light, and very little energy, by using lenticular screens to guide each beam of light directly onto the panels.
Image: Nayan Kulkarni, Shimmer. Lightwork for Corby swimming pool. Corby Borough Council / Architects: S&P Architects / Photo: Michael Franke