Siobhan Davies Dance Studios

Siobhan Davies Dance uses contemporary choreography to stimulate new ways of thinking about the body’s interaction with the environment. Together, we transformed a disused Victorian school into bespoke new studios that radically expand the established territory of dance. The centre contributes to the vibrancy of its busy neighbourhood with an uplifting space where movement and wellbeing are celebrated.

Client: Siobhan Davies Dance
Construction Value: £2.4 million
Completion: 2005
Location: London

Awards:
2006 RIBA National Award
Publications:
Architectural Review

L’architecture d’aujourd’hui

Time Out

Architecture Today

The Independent

The Guardian

Building Design

The Sunday Times

Creative Island

Concept

“One art form responding to another with wit and panache”

Sunday Times

Based on observing the dancers’ understanding of space, the scheme plays on themes that are common to bodies and buildings. Inspired by these ideas, we created a setting alive with movement and light that lifts everyday life into dance-like drama.

The studios are approached by a suspended staircase cast in silhouette against a patchwork façade of glass, solid panels and louvres. Here, dancers can stretch on the balustrades as the stair itself flexes like the strings of a huge instrument.

Dancing in the sky

The weightless quality of the dancer’s body is echoed in the curves and tensions of the new roof. Forming a single plane through walls and ceiling, its asymmetrical leaping vaults billow above the brick building base, reflecting the sweeping arms of the dancers below.

“SWA’s studios for Siobhan Davies Dance have a synergy with the human body that has delighted the client”

Building Design
Balance and light

The rhythmic pattern of the roof vaults, along with carefully positioned glazing to the outside world, orientates the dancers and measures out the space. High-level clerestory windows admit abundant diffuse light whilst avoiding dazzle and glare. In the alternating arches of the roof, the concept of repetition and inversion familiar to choreographers is written in wood, metal and light.

A sensual and tactile palette of materials combines both existing and new through the use of texture, colour and weight. Working against the layers of school history embodied in the retained walls, we overlaid horse-hair render, glass and wood.

 

Photos by Richard Bryant and Peter Cook