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Southwark dances to Wigglesworth tune

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Sarah Wigglesworth Architects is set to create a new dance studio for leading contemporary choreographer Siobhan Davies. The scheme will refurbish and extend a three-storey Victorian building sitting within the playground of the Charlotte Sharman primary school in Southwark, south London. The studio will support dancers in mid-career as well as providing a resource for the borough of Southwark, the community and children from the neighbouring school.

The top floor of the building will be given over to the largest and most important space, the main dance rehearsal studio. Designed to function also as a flexible performance space, the studio will give the experience of 'dancing on the roof within the ruins of the existing building'. The existing roof is replaced by a series of 'sensuous repeated, twisting shell ribbons'to create a billowing roof form that will let in views and daylight. So that while the studio is isolated physically and acoustically, the external world will still penetrate, to produce an environment that is stimulating as well as focused and neutral.

The central core of the building is stripped out at ground and first-floor level to create a doubleheight space. The west block is given over to office space at ground level and changing rooms on the first floor. The east wing accommodates entertaining and meeting spaces on the ground floor, with a smaller rehearsal space on the first floor.

The scheme works within the logic of the existing building, puncturing the inner walls with local openings to link the occupied spaces with the central circulation zone. This central void becomes the heart of the building, organising and connecting the rooms.

A planning application will be submitted to Southwark council shortly.

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