Original features

March 26, 2009

Situated on an 8,000sq m site in southeast London, Laban - part of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance - is the largest purpose-built contemporary dance centre in the world. It was designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron (also responsible for the Tate Modern), officially opened in 2003 and was awarded the prestigious Stirling Prize for "Building of the Year".

The structure is clad in a semi-translucent polycarbonate that cloaks the building in semi-transparent shades of lime, turquoise and magenta. It is punctuated by large clear windows. By day, the regular activities - training, rehearsals, research and workshops - are semi-visible from the outside. By night, Laban acts as a coloured beacon, radiating light out on to the surrounding area and along Deptford Creek. The roof incorporates a "brown roof", a special habitat for one of the UK's rarest birds, the black redstart. The interior is structured like an urban "streetscape", a series of corridors, interior courtyards and meeting places centred round the main theatre space. Vast light wells, some decorated with water or mosses, penetrate deep into the building from the roof, providing further distinctive features among the "streets".

Send suggestions for this architectural series to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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