Laban Dance Centre

by | 22. Jul 2012

Educational | Project

Photo: arcspace


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 panels, depending
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.


Photo: arcspace


The building has the same movement, youth, agility, pizzazz, front to it that its students have.
/Julian Barnes (Juror)

Photo: arcspace


The interior is designed as an urban “streetscape”, a series of corridors, interior
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.


Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace


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.


Photo: arcspace


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.


Photo: arcspace


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.


Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace


The shadow images of the dancers play an active part of Laban’s architectural
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.


Plan courtesy Herzog & de Meuron



CITYDeptford, London
COUNTRYUnited Kingdom
ARCHITECTHerzog & De Meuron