New £8million arts centre brings architectural innovation to South Oxfordshire
South Oxfordshire District Council’s new multi million pound centre for arts, culture and entertainment, Cornerstone, has opened as the centrepiece to the new town square in Didcot.
Designed by Ellis Williams Architects, the new £8million, 2,010 sq m centre intends to play host to a wide range of cultural and creative activities with everything from photography and creative writing sessions, to yoga and hip-hop classes. The local council collaborated closely with the architects and artists, as well as local community groups and schools to give the building a distinctive and contemporary look.
Arts and creativity are central to the building’s look and feel. The exterior is encased in silver aluminium cladding and features giant floor to ceiling windows, which are framed with mustard yellow and bright orange panels. Its façade also features the Window Wall, designed by artists Richard Layzell and Jacqui Poncelet, which faces out on to the street and is designed to connect the arts inside to the people outside, thus demystifying what is going on within the centre and making local people feel comfortable and welcome. The Cornerstone also comprises a 278 seat auditorium for drama, music, dance and comedy, plus exhibition and studio apace as well as a café bar and restaurant. It is hoped the centre will attract top quality national touring acts, in addition to nurturing and showcasing the best local talent.
Councillor Bill Service, South Oxfordshire’s cabinet member for leisure, believes that the Cornerstone building has achieved its aim of becoming an inclusive and contemporary home for arts and culture in Didcot, “All those involved can be justifiably proud of the final product, the design is breathtaking. It truly is the architectural jewel in South Oxfordshire’s crown.”