The Council House

Corstorphine + Wright was appointed by Derby Council to completely refurbish its main building to bring together 2,000 employees, meeting spaces and the council chamber in a single location. The vision was to create a one-stop shop for local services while making it easier for staff to work with the public and across departments.

The building was locally listed but complex and in inferior condition. The original cellular layouts had been subdivided over time, creating poor internal spaces and a closed, unpleasant working environment.

As part of the design process, we spoke to staff from all departments to determine the optimum number of desks and meeting rooms. This helped us design for improved flow and increased productivity.

The result is a light-filled, open-plan space within the existing envelope, while preserving historic features. We designed the central atrium with a steel-framed structure and a circular fanned roof light, which defines the circumference of the chamber and creates a welcoming environment.

New floor space has been created using large-spanning, pre-cast floors and inserting a new steel frame within the building envelope. We worked closely with conservation officers and received a Certificate of Immunity from English Heritage, which led to creative retention and refurbishment of the impressive Mayor’s Staircase and Mayor’s Chamber.

The external fabric of the building has been retained and enhanced with the u-values of the façade substantially improved.  A new main entrance was installed to face the public realm space, complemented by a dedicated staff entrance.

The project had ambitious sustainability targets of BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and EPC A ratings, and we were able to exceed these. Leveraging the building’s location on the edge of the River Derwent, we developed a plan for a hydroelectric generator to deliver clean, renewable power. This initiative lifted the EPC rating to A+ and resulted in a final BREEAM score of 81.

The construction and maintenance budget was £30 million, but through competitive tender returns, we helped the Council bring the project in well below this figure, including all fixtures and fittings

The project commenced in January 2010 with planning gained by December of that year, with completion reached in December 2012.

The project won the 2014 BCO National Award for the Best Refurbished / Recycled Workplace and was shortlisted for an RIBA Award in 2013 alongside receiving a Derby Civic Society Award in 2012.


BCO National Award 2014

Best Refurbished / Recycled Workplace category for Derby City Council

BCO Midlands Regional Award 2014

Best Refurbished / Recycled Workplace

Regional RIBA Award 2013


LABC Regional Excellence Award 2013

Best Large Commercial Building for Derby City Council

Derby Civic Society Award 2012

Best Restoration Project

Best New Building

Green Apple Award

Gold Award 2012