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During the summer months when dance, for the most part, is very quiet and not a whole lot is happening, we, here in TheLab™, like to exercise our imagination and recently we did some exercise about dance buildings.
You all use them at some point or another during your working day whether it be for workshops, rehearsals or classes and, more often than not, you encounter the same issues.
Studios are often too cold, too hot, very noisy, have poor natural lighting , are not very clean or the space is full of chairs, workout equipment, mats or other detritus to has nothing to do with what you're doing.
Often times you also have to put up with constant interruptions from other people either coming into the studio or looking through pointless "viewing windows".
In short, it's all a bit of a mess.
Even relatively new buildings are not immune from these issues. One former NDA director we spoke with described their first impression of their new building as being like a "women's prison".
Part of the problem is that buildings, both new and old, if they are about "the arts" try too hard to be all things to all people. Instead of doing one thing well they do everything poorly. They lack specific focus or purpose and often end up smelling funny because of the nasty cleaning products they all seem to use.
Grow Your Own
Thanks to some fancy computer software we decided to amuse ourselves by constructing a dance building for a regular, mid-scale, contemporary dance company that is designed to do one thing and one thing only. Serve the purposes of the dancers and other staff of that company with minimal fuss.
What we came up with was 'Europa', because we love a pretentious name or two if we can shoe horn them into the project.
We're not going to bore you to death with all our thoughts on why this is constructed the way it is but the primary goal was one of simplicity. All the staff working in the building are elevated off the ground with near 360 degree visibility provided by an almost 100% outer glass wall. No more sitting in the dark.
The main studio space, in fact the only studio space, is 14 metres by 12 metres with a 4 metre high roof. It would be constructed in such a way as to provide an edge to edge space. Nothing would stick out from the walls including switches, plug sockets or environmental controls.
Wrap around windows provide the company with plenty of natural light which, science tells us, stops people from getting fatigued too quickly and helps prevent depression and bad moods. If such a building could be positioned within some nice grounds with trees and such (remember those?) then all the better.
The lower floor is given over entirely to additional changing rooms and company storage. If you must keep a lot of crap, then keep it out of sight.
As for the costs? Well, we have no idea, it's gotta be less than £19Million though.