FIVE MINUTES WITH…
Ken Shuttleworth – meet the man behind The Cube…
For our second ‘Five Minutes With…’, we sat down with Ken Shuttleworth, the leading man behind the team that designed The Cube. We got to know a little more of his background and inspiration behind the landmark.
For those who don’t know, you have well over 40 year’s experience in overseeing design and construction. Can you give us a brief history of your work and some of the projects you’ve been involved with previously?
I studied at Handsworth Grammar School and then De Montfort and then went to work for Foster + Partners for the first half of my career, a defining period which enabled me to work with some incredible people on amazing projects around the world from 30 St Mary’s Axe (the Gherkin) in London to the HSBC HQ in Hong Kong.
I founded Make in 2004 and we now have 150 people across our London, Hong Kong and Sydney studios. Among Make’s recently completed schemes are the award winning hotel The Temple House in Chengdu, The Barn at the University of Nottingham and the Hiscox Building in York, as well as St James’s Market, LSQ London and Rathbone Square, all in London. Projects currently on site include 12–24 Lun Fat Street in Hong Kong, Wynyard Place in Sydney, and 80 Charlotte Street in London. We’ve also got a handful of projects in Birmingham, some on site, others on the drawing board.
Completed in 2010 and nominated for a number of awards in the Midlands area the year after, The Cube has certainly caught people’s eye. What was the inspiration behind it?
The building’s geometric form and aesthetic were inspired by Birmingham’s industrial heritage, as well as the image of an ornate metal jewellery box that conceals a bright interior. It was a unique site and needed something special as a draw to attract people but also help with the changing face of the city. I love that you can see glimpses of it from all across the city and know what and where it is and that it has been celebrated in so many different ways from lego to tetris memes.
Being Birmingham born yourself, how did it feel to know you’d play such a part in the city’s future?
This was one of our first big projects as Make and of course it was a little bit extra special that it should be in my home town. I have no doubt that Birmingham’s rapid growth and change played a big role in my decision to be an architect and so it’s serendipitous that my firm should have delivered The Cube in this latest evolution of the city, and of course that’s now continuing at Arena Central too.
With the vast redevelopment of the Mailbox District gaining serious momentum over the past few years, where do you see the area ending up in terms of being a social hub for Birmingham?
City centres are having to adapt and change to so many different pressures so it’s important to keep pushing on with development and improvements to the built environment to ensure you don’t get left behind. Birmingham’s development potential is enormous. It’s great that the West side of the city is developing and evolving its character, with the Library of Birmingham, Paradise, the new Centenary Square and Arena Central and the changes at Five Ways, and of course the area around The Mailbox is an essential part of this mix.
At The Cube