A flagship community building in the ongoing regeneration of Slough, The Curve is a new premier library and cultural centre, under construction at the junction of William Street and Bath Road and due for completion in December 2015.
The three storey building will house a brand new library, cafe, museum, performance venue, learning rooms and a computer suite.
The project is being carried out for Slough Borough Council by main contractors Morgan Sindall. Concept architects are BBlur and internal design architects are CZWG. Having received planning permission in 2010, the building is being delivered as part of a successful wider LABV partnership agreement between Morgan Sindall and Slough Borough Council.
The scheme provides a coherent setting for the nearby listed St Ethelburt’s Church, and features two large fully glazed ends providing welcoming transparent facades which the sculptural form contrasts with the simple curved north and south elevations.
This encourages the use of the building as an internal street forming a short cut between two new public squares – Mackensie Square and the important junction of William Street / Wellington Street.
The design of the scheme is geared to providing: an open and democratic building, accessible for all and welcoming to all; a community focus which can be used comfortably by a large number of different community groups; a place convenient to use for lunch time visits and for those people wanting to use the different facilities all day, and a cultural building that fully integrates the town centre and creates a new gateway building on Wellington Street.
The building is being constructed on a site previously occupied by a day care centre which had been demolished, after which the land was used as a car park. Work began on site in early 2014.
The Curve will be 89.7m long, 15.5m high, 16.5m wide at its widest point, and 8.7m wide at its narrowest point.
The building features an innovative steel framed structure with a standing seam roof and with many interesting elevational design features, including the ‘eyebrow’ – a segment of the facade which is fully glazed and curves in two directions. The elevations are in a combination of materials ranging from curtain walling to a faceted panel system with curved sections, glazed to the ‘eyebrow’ feature and overhanging elements to the William street elevation. Eco-friendly features include the installation of photovoltaic panels and the building is designed and built to achieve a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.
The Curve is highly bespoke to accommodate its various specific functions, and is designed as a single integrated space. Access features include level entrances, widened automatic entrance doors and two lifts.
Internally, it will incorporate approximately 4,500sq m of floor space and has a design occupancy of 300 people at any given time.
The performance space will be on the ground floor, on the eastern side of The Curve building, adjacent to the entrance. Seating will comprise of 180 raked bleacher seats and 100 free standing chairs and the space will have a sprung timber floor. The walls will feature Ribba cladding, acoustic panels and dark painted plasterboard.
In addition to being designed to conform to all current statutory safety and security requirements, the building is protected by CCTV monitoring and has a number of further security features.
Challenges overcome by the construction team include the building’s location at a pivotal point in the heart of Slough where significant constraints apply, including those relating to traffic, noise, dust and refuse.
The scheme plays a significant role in improving the pedestrian permeability and quality of the town centre environment and reconnects the important community functions with the high street.