About this set

HERZOG & DE MEURON: The Laban Dance Centre, London, 2003


Deptford in S.E. London is a run-down area of wharves, scrap yards, odds and ends of post-industrial industry, council houses, railway lines and bleak roads, and plenty of cheap redundant land. It is here that the Laban Dance Centre has moved from nearby New Cross. It is now the largest contemporary dance centre in the world, designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron and winner of the 2003 Stirling Prize.

The west-facing main façade curves gently, focusing on the distant 18th century St. Paul's church by Thomas Archer. It is fronted by landscaped mounds that act as outdoor rehearsal and performance areas. At the rear the building is protected by Deptford Creek. The exterior façades consist of coloured transparent polycarbonate panels backed by transparent and translucent glass panels. This skin reflects the surroundings by day, but by night the building becomes transparent and glows with colour.

Because of the importance played by colour in determining rhythm and orientation inside and out, the architects collaborated with the artist Michael Craig-Martin who proposed a palette of magenta, lime and turquoise. The activities of the Centre are distributed on two main levels. On the lower -- which is split in two -- the 300-seat theatre is located in the centre. It is surrounded by the café and therapy area (below the library), dance studios, offices, etc. The upper level houses most of the 13 studios, accessed from three wedge-shaped corridors. The artist determined the colours to be used. The levels are connected by two spiral stairways, one at each end of the building.