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The Place, London Allies and Morrison

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working details : A glass-block wall with projecting dance barres

As part of the refurbishment of the dance centre, a new three-storey block has been inserted between the original theatre and the site boundary to the north, which abuts a six-storey hotel. The construction - a cast in situ concrete frame with precast concrete double-T beam floors - is clad externally with brick. The vaulted soffits of the double-T beams are exposed, to allow the thermal mass to regulate temperature and create a stable thermal environment for the dancers.

The external walls of all six studios face north and look straight onto the hotel. To create a generously lit interior while maintaining privacy and reducing sound transmission, they are made of translucent glass blocks.

At the ends of each wall, storey-height opening casement windows assist orientation and allow the dancers to control ventilation when necessary.

The walls are formed of 190 x 190 x 80mm glass blocks divided into 3m wide panels by pairs of back-to-back T-shaped metal sections. The 190 x 162mm inner T-shapes are made of steel and act as wind-posts; they form the vertical elements of an internal steel frame which runs round each glass-block panel. The 190 x 142mm outer T-shapes are made of polyester powder-coated aluminium and form the vertical elements of an external frame to each panel.

A pair of solid-beech dance barres runs in front of the wall, projecting on paired steel flats, fixed back to the steel T-shaped sections. The upper barre is shaped to allow an adult dancer's hand or leg to rest comfortably on it, while discouraging gripping, which would induce tension. The lower barre is smaller in section and designed for children.

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