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New heart for West Bromwich

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West Bromwich is to get a new heart with the c/plex arts centre, designed by Alsop & Stormer, unveiled this week. Sandwell Borough Council has decided to put the building on the site of its bus station where it will benefit from not one but two public open spaces - one beneath the building and the other on its roof.

Raked stainless-steel legs raise the building 12m above the new square, and eight huge projection screens suspended from it will broadcast c/plex events, as well as other projects. The building itself will be a multi- coloured parallelogram clad in metal and glass and wrapped in wave-like Teflon-coated mesh.

It is planned over four floors, with the creative gallery a free-standing irregular lozenge-shaped structure sitting independently at its centre. Around it will be technology and learning resources, education and community facilities, offices and 3000m2 of managed workspaces for small businesses.

Visitors will use two huge glass lifts to enter the building, arriving at the lobby level which will include a range of exhibition areas, a restaurant bar and cafes. The underbelly of the creative gallery will form a roof to this level.

The roof of the complex will also be open to the public and is described by Will Alsop as 'a playground where people are allowed to invent their own games and entertainment'.

c/plex will be run by Jubilee Arts, which is developing the project with the Sandwell Partnership, a public-private partnership of local businesses and local government.

The total cost will be £35 million, and Jubilee Arts, which has been in discussions with the Arts Lottery since 1995, is submitting a bid for £19 million. The project will be part of a major regeneration of the centre of West Bromwich, including a transport rethink and more buildings, which Alsop and Stormer is masterplanning.

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