The Public is a new creative centre designed by Alsop architects and due to open this summer – in West Bromwich. Not the first place you would expect to find one of Britain’s largest cultural buildings, the £40 million space encompassing a gallery, theatre, event space and cafe on the outskirts of Birmingham hopes that by becoming a creative landmark it will inspire the local community and encourage social and economic regeneration.
According to the architects:
The Public represents a radical gesture for community architecture, born from the conviction that architecture can be a catalyst for regeneration and renewal.
The scheme uses an ‘H’ frame which supports both roof and curtain wall, which is clad in black and pink sinusoidal steel. ‘Jelly Bean’ windows punctuate this wall, with pink glazing, and cluster around a ‘mother Jelly Bean’ window which marks and lights the main entrance. A pink glass skirt surrounds the box at ground level drawing the public into and through the space, reclaiming the ground plane.
Beyond the skirt two large zinc-clad sculptural elements, the ‘Rock’ and the ‘Sock’ and a third cushioned element, create an extraordinary spatial and visual experience. Linked by a snaking ramp and topped by a series of hung Lily Pads, the interior, whilst meeting the functional requirements of the building, enlivens the visitor experience with dramatic and exceptional interventions. These elements variously contain event spaces, workshop space, services, toilets and a gallery for local exhibitors.
The Public represents both a starting point and an opportunity for the people of West Bromwich, reinforcing the towns eroded sense of identity.