The Cube

Southampton University Students' Union, UK256 seats

The Cube is an incredibly multipurpose space at the heart of Southampton University’s recently revamped students’ union. Used by the university every morning for lectures, the space also has a plethora of other uses – from a cinema to a circus training arena, Zumba studio and nightclub. The retractable seating is therefore operated on a daily basis.

Audience Systems were tasked with replacing a fifteen year old retractable seating system with something that would give the space a new lease of life – and make it easier to manage too.

Our high specification Recital T chairs were chosen for their combination of cinematic good looks, practicality and versatility – the foldaway writing tablets are perfect for lectures. They are finished in a raspberry and grey colour scheme to complement the stripped back, contemporary feel of the space.

A few little design changes to the retractable system have made a world of difference to the operation of the space. The Students’ Union requested that the fascias at the front of the platform would form a completely seamless finish to the platforms when closed. The Cube is occasionally used for club nights, and it would only take the odd flying drink to cause serious stickiness on the seat upholstery! Audience Systems designed a series of kinked steel fascias, each finished with a sealing strip. Not only does this form the unbroken finish the customer requested, it also looks pretty good too!

The system is “recessed” – meaning not only do the platforms fold away at the touch of a button, but the whole closed system slides back into a specially designed storage area too. For The Cube, we designed a special “trackless” system to guide the platforms into the recess without the need for a track in the floor.

Karl Myburgh, Facilities Supervisor at the Students’ Union, operates the system most days and is impressed by its reliability. “It’s a hundred times better than the old system!” he concludes.