Draining the cube

The latest custom designed drainage channels, developed and manufactured by ACO Building Drainage, have been installed at the landmark Corby Cube building to manage the flow of runoff from the facade of the structure.  Based on ACO’s proven stainless steel and galvanised mild steel channel technology, the new drainage system incorporates a sequence of catchment sumps to improve water flow control, plus stainless steel pedestrian heelsafe gratings for entrances and exits, and an integrated facility to add low voltage internal lighting.

The £30 million Corby Cube project was commissioned by Corby Borough Council as part of a major regeneration project for the former steel town, and is scheduled for completion late in 2010.  The futuristic, naturally ventilated, six storey black and mirrored glass structure was designed by architectural practice Hawkins Brown and is being built by the construction group Galliford Try.  Forming the centrepiece in a new town square, for local arts and council services, the Corby Cube is a multi-purpose building and will house a 445 seat theatre, library, restaurant, council chamber and offices, café and a terraced rooftop garden.  These facilities are arranged around a spiralling circulation system, based on ramps that rise from the foyer through the building, plus a linear staircase spanning 15m and culminating in a helical stair leading to a rooftop restaurant.

Externally, the structure is surrounded by open public areas including a south facing terrace for recreation activities, plus ramped and stair access and pedestrian walkways, with the custom built ACO drainage system being integrated at key points to provide efficient and reliable control of rainwater.  David Lomax, from the architects Hawkins Brown, explains that, “The combined surface area of both the building itself and the surrounding pedestrian areas has the potential to produce significant volumes of water during even a relatively short period of light rain.  As a result, it is essential that the drainage system has the capacity to handle the projected volume flows and, from an aesthetic perspective, to match the design and feel of the project.”

Working alongside the architects and contractors, engineers from ACO Building Drainage developed a simple system, using combinations of stainless steel and galvanised steel drainage components.  These were easy for site workers to install, fitting flush into paved areas, and blended unobtrusively into the overall design. 

A key component for both the aesthetics and safety of system was the use of shallow stainless steel channels and Heelsafe gratings, fitted across each entrance and exit.  The unique stainless steel Heelsafe gratings sit flush against the entrance doors, ensuring that all door surface water is collected and removed, while providing exceptional rigidity and load bearing capacity.  Shallow stainless steel channels are then used to feed water into adjacent full depth carrier channels which in turn run into underground catchment sumps to slow and control the flow, especially at times of peak rainfall.

David Lomax concludes, “ACO’s specialist drainage engineers worked closely with our architects and the team from Galliford Try to ensure that each stage of the project was completed efficiently and to specification.  Just as importantly, they have provided ongoing technical and customer support, with a sophisticated drainage system that provides an elegant and effective solution for this prestigious project.”

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