The Cube is a new landmark destination in central Birmingham. This competition-winning 23-storey scheme comprises a true mix of uses: offices, apartments, parking, retail, hotel, spa, restaurants and ‘sky bar’. The design is based on the contrast of Birmingham’s industrial heritage: heavy industry metal working and fine hand-crafted jewellery. Set on a glazed plinth, the building acts as a protective metal box, pure in form, assembled from tessellated, glistening components, which gives way to a glassy, twisting courtyard.
Like a jewellery box which can’t quite contain its contents, this courtyard erupts at the top with an angular, asymmetric ‘crown’. Unlike many residential developments, which offer a standard range of undifferentiated units, the ‘twisting’ geometry of the courtyard creates 35 different types of apartments which are far from uniform – ranging from high-level, three-bedroom duplexes to small ‘crash pads’. The openness, simplicity and flexibility of these units is manifested through sliding walls, recessed hold-open doors and light shelves.
Occupants open their front doors to face large picture windows offering views out across the city or central courtyard. A consistent palette of stone and glass is used throughout the kitchen and prefabricated bathrooms, designed by Make. Two circulation cores located on opposite sides of the building has allowed the developer to separate the two types of tenancy. One half of the building contains 151 ‘buy-to rent’ apartments - purchased primarily as investments; the other half contains 93 ‘buy-to-live’ units designed for owner-occupiers. Over half of the 244 apartments have been sold off-plan.
The Cube uses a number of passive features to optimise its ecological impact such as post-tensioned floor slabs, air-tight, insulated panels, and varying the ratio of solid-to-glass varies according to the direction of each facade. A centralised plant, across all the building’s uses, ensures cost and environmental efficiencies and provides under-floor heating to each apartment.
Appointed – May 2005 Planning application submitted – August 2005 Planning application approved – December 2005 Enabling works started - January 2007 Enabling works completed - July 2007 Construction started - July 2007 Completed – August 2010 Construction cost – £86 million