The project is located at the heart of a city block in a school playground. The new volume extends an existing school building up the slope of the passageway that leads onto the site, and settles itself onto the playground’s sloping surface.
The building is accessed from the street by passing through a porte-cochère that opens onto a passageway. From here the southernmost end of the building can be seen in all its verticality. This stretched volume signals the presence of the dance centre. The building’s pale facade of hand-made brick fits well with the creams and beiges of the neighbouring buildings. Rather than breaking with the context, the building fits into the existing stone-coloured environment, at the same time underlining its own presence with its eye-catching volumes and natural materials.
Surrounding homes look over the steeply pitched roofscape with its glazed white tiles, a dancing sculpture of changing colours as sunlight plays across the undulating dance studio roofs.
As you walk up the passageway, large windows give views into the heart of the building’s organization; horizontal and vertical circulation spaces provide generous reception areas and spaces for meeting people, waiting and relaxing between classes. These uses are visible from outside, comings and goings are theatricalised, different activities meet and a relationship with the town is developed. The ambiance inside is hushed. Soft lighting is tinted by oiled oak and the clay-rendered walls. On the ceiling a piece by artist Marie Maillard evokes nature, the sun, the movements of dance and the hum of music. These circulation spaces contrast with the white, light-filled practice rooms. On the ground floor overlooking the playground, two openings are provided into each music room. A large square window frames views of planting at the rear of the site. Its high level sill screens views in from the playground and separates the view from the bustle. A small opening for ventilation hidden behind brick screens allows for manual adjustments to the temperature in the room.
The dance studios on the first floor have wide windows that come down to the floor, overlooking the playground. Large glazed skylights for ventilation bring in extra diffuse light and highlight the asymmetric ceiling that is particularly suitable for use in a dance studio.