The Laban Building is home to Trinity Laban, one of the world's leading conservatoires for contemporary dance artist training.
This training is enriched by a range of activities including an exciting performance programme, a pioneering education and community programme, Europe's largest dance library and archive and Trinity Laban Health, a performing arts health suite. Its range of activities plus its excellent facilities and world class faculty, is what makes the Laban Building such a dynamic and inspiring environment in which to learn and work.
In 1997 Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron won the international design competition to build the new Laban Building. The architects are Pritzker Prize winners (2001) for their redevelopment of Tate Modern.
Situated on a two acre site beside Deptford Creek in South East London, the Laban Building creates a powerful, highly visible focus for the ongoing physical and social regeneration of the area.
Urban and environmental context of the Laban Building
Great care has been taken by the architects to respect existing features in the area including nearby St. Paul's, Deptford, one of the finest remaining Baroque churches in the country, designed by Thomas Archer. Likewise, the impact of the building on the local flora and fauna of the Creek has been carefully considered. The roof, for example, incorporates a brown roof, a special habitat for the Black Redstart, one of the UK's rarest birds.
The visual artist, Michael Craig-Martin, collaborated with the architects Herzog & de Meuron on the bold decorative scheme for the Laban Building's exterior and on some elements of the interior design. The 7800m2 structure is clad in a revolutionary semi-translucent, coloured polycarbonate punctuated by large clear windows. The polycarbonate cloaks the building in semitransparent shades of lime, turquoise and magenta. Michael Craig-Martin previously worked with Herzog & de Meuron on the polycarbonate box which illuminates the top of the chimney at Tate Modern in London.
By day, the regular activities of the Laban Building - including training, rehearsals, research and workshops - are partly visible from the outside. By night, the Laban Building acts as a coloured lantern or beacon, radiating light out onto the surrounding area and along Deptford Creek.
The design was conceived as a physical expression of the Faculty of Dance's relationship with its local community a vibrant inspiring focal point, accessible and welcoming to all.
Inside, the building is structured as an urban streetscape, a series of corridors, interior courtyards and meeting places, centred round the main theatre space - the literal and metaphorical heart of the building.
The design aims to:
- provide inspiring spaces which mirror the fluid movements of dance
- reflect the complex relationships between the Laban Building's many different fields of activity and enable students and staff from various disciplines to meet and exchange ideas
- preserve some of the distinctive 'chaotic beauty' and constructive informality often observed in the Faculty of Dance's old premises at Laurie Grove, New Cross - now a 21st century performance laboratory
Again, light and colour play key roles in the interior, serving practical and aesthetic purposes. Colour is used as an aid to orientation and to lend a distinct identity to each sector of the building. Vast light wells, some decorated with water or mosses, penetrate deep into the interior of the building from the roof, providing light and further distinctive features amongst the 'streets'.
The building has been designed to ensure full access for people with a wide range of disabilities from wheelchair users to those with sensory and learning difficulties.
On an architectural tour of the Laban Building you can expect to experience Herzog and de Meuron's inspiring spaces and chaotic beauty, created through collaboration with the visual artist Michael Craig-Martin. The tour will explore spaces filled with vivid colour and dynamic form. These include dance studios, interlocking corridors, interior courtyards and a performing arts health suite - all centred around the main theatre space - the heart of the building.