Laban Dance Centre
Herzog & de Meuron
Laban is located in south-east London, on the edge of Deptford Creek, surrounded by decaying blocks of council flats, scrapyards, and derelict industrial warehouses.
Laban is the largest school for contemporary dance in the world, and one of Europe's leading, and largest, institutions for contemporary dance artist training.
The curving facades are clad in transparent or translucent glass
on whether the spaces behind them require a view. Lime, turquoise and magenta, semi-translucent polycarbonate panels, punctuated by large clear windows, are mounted in front of the glass panels, giving the building a pale magical glow.
The colors were chosen in collaboration with visual artist Michael Craig-Martin. The recently completed landscaped mounds, including an amphitheater, was designed by Vogt Architects.
/Julian Barnes (Juror)
The building has the same movement, youth, agility, pizzazz, front to it that its students have.
The interior is designed as an urban "streetscape", a series of
courtyards and meeting places, wrapped around the main theater - the literal and metaphorical heart of the building. Colors determine the rhythm and orientation both inside and outside the building.
All activities are intermixed and distributed on two main levels, promoting communication within the entire building. Two black, concrete spiral staircases, placed at both ends, become places for encounters. Colors determine the rhythm and orientation both inside and outside the building. In the interior Color is used as an aid to orientation and to lend a distinct identity to each sector of the building.
Three planted yards, cut in at different depths, provide
daylight to the interior and
enable visual connections and spatial orientation throughout the entire building. They also mark the locations where the stairways access the main stories and the planted roof area.
Most of the studios are on the upper floor, with a window into the corridor and natural light through the facade. Each studio is different in size, form and color.
The main theatre, the heart of the building, is the orientation point in the open "cityscape" of the first floor. The library and cafeteria, located behind glass walls, are visually also part of the open "cityscape."
During performances the sloping ramp "street" becomes the lobby for the 300-seat main theater. Craig-Martin also designed The monumental wallpainting that wraps around the outside of the auditorium is also designed by Craig-Martin.
The spiral staircase, located near the entrance, divide the two
ramps inside the
building. The expansive black, sloping ramp that cuts across the building, and the narrow ramp descending to the lower theater entrance. The staircase and balustrade concrete was left rough before painting, giving the appearance of black coal. Swirling wood handrails, bendy wood, are used everywhere.
The shadow images of the dancers play an active part of Laban's
identity. By day, the regular activities of Laban, training, rehearsals, research and workshops, are semi-visible through the walls from the outside. By night, Laban acts as a coloured lantern or beacon, radiating light out onto the surrounding area and along Deptford Creek.
Great care was taken by the architects to respect existing
features in the area.
Deptford's St.Paul's Church, designed by Thomas Archer, is one of the finest
remaining Baroque churches in the country. The Church was an important point of
reference for the complex. The impact of the building on the local flora and fauna of the Creek was also carefully considered. The roof, for example, incorporates a 'brown roof', a special habitat for the Black Redstart, one of the UK's rarest birds.
Laban is named after Rudolf Laban (1879-1958) one of the founding figures of European Modern Dance. Born in Austria-Hungary, Rudolf Laban was a dancer, choreographer and theoretician of dance and movement; a pioneer of community dance; and he played a significant role in reforming the training of dancers. Rudolf Laban made a number of advances in dance scholarship, establishing choreology (dance analysis) and inventing a system of recording movement known as Labanotation. Herzog & de Meuron won the Stirling Prize for the Laban Dance Centre building in 2003.
Facts about Laban Dance Centre
Total floor area:
Herzog & de Meuron
Nandita Boger Fun Budimann
Rita Maria Diniz
Jean Paul Jaccaud
Pierre de Meuron
Michael Craig-Martin (Artist), London, United Kingdom
Ballast Construction, London, United Kingdom
Whitby Bird & Partners, United Kingdom
Vogt Landschaftarchitekten, Zurich, Switzerland
Carr & Angier, Bath, United Kingdom
Arup Acoustics, Winchester, United Kingdom
Arup Project Management, United Kingdom
The Laban Centre
Last updated: December 19, 2013