Dundee College's £3.35 million centre for dance and drama projects by Nicoll Russell Studios had a complex brief. It had to both provide a base for professional contemporary dance training and performance, and be an accessible and welcoming venue for local people.
The building consists of three independently stable structures linked together by public spaces and walkway bridges covered by a partially glazed roof. A triangular auditorium points its prow towards the visitor, and its dark concrete walls are lined on one side by the playful, curvaceous forms of overlapping metal screens. Inside the building, a full-height foyer wraps around the auditorium, and the dancing metal screens continue through to a courtyard at the rear.
Spatially, the foyer moves into a flowing succession of reception hall, lobbies and upstairs galleries. On the other side of the foyer there is a row of finely detailed mirrored rooms with west-facing window walls for dance practice.
The judges said: 'Instead of applying facilities for people with a variety of disabilities retrospectively, as sadly is so often the case, here all the thinking has gone on well in advance, with continuous consultation with access consultants and local groups. It could even be said it was the starting point for the project. From the closely placed designated parking spaces (or convenient drop-off point), to the easy-to-open doors, the clear and elegant signage and obvious routes both in and out, the well-designed lifts, an auditorium with the flexibility to deal with late bookings from wheelchair users and the excellent acoustics: everything is designed to be inclusive and to make for a welcoming and enjoyable experience for people of all abilities. The same goes for behind the scenes, with good access to backstage, the control room and even the operational fly galleries. This is a scheme that goes well beyond what is statutorily required.'
WSP Services was the engineer and Torith was the contractor.
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