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English National Ballet at the Mulryan Centre for Dance, London City Island

World-class studio, costume, medical and production facilities

English National Ballet.
English National Ballet. Credit: Al Crow

RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA London Regional Award winner 2021


Glenn Howells Architects for English National Ballet
Contract value: undisclosed 
GIA: 8,635m2

As a focal point for the London City Island development, the English National Ballet’s new home delivers on its mission to provide the highest quality classical ballet to the widest possible audience. 

This public-facing, purpose-built facility opens onto the civic Trinity Square, and invites in passers-by through a ground-floor exhibition area and café. This in turn opens up to an atrium that connects to all the levels with a feature stair. The stair entices visitors to explore both the company and the school, encouraging public engagement with the performances taking place in the various rehearsal studios. 

The building provides a range of flexible facilities, including a main production studio, rehearsal studios, and spaces for set builders, back-of-house technicians, costume designers, and over 200 office staff. The top two floors are occupied by the English National Ballet School.

  • English National Ballet.
    English National Ballet. Credit: Al Crow
  • English National Ballet.
    English National Ballet. Credit: Al Crow
  • English National Ballet.
    English National Ballet. Credit: Al Crow
  • English National Ballet.
    English National Ballet. Credit: Al Crow
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Far from lying dormant when there is no performance, this building’s impressive flexibility and adaptability allows it to host the ENB’s strong community outreach programmes.  

The scheme is lean, clean, and green, its energy needs served by the Island’s energy centre. The building’s large, translucent volume contrasts perfectly with the surrounding backdrop of taller, tighter-grain residential towers. Its simple and elegant use of materials and interplay of opaque and clear facades work well to define studio areas, balancing users’ needs for privacy with visual connection to their surroundings. When darkness falls, the building transforms into a single glowing translucent volume, allowing glimpses of the dancers as they rehearse. In doing so, the design enlivens the civic space, and further connects the English National Ballet to its local community.

See the rest of the London East winners here

And all the RIBA Regional Awards here

See other RIBA National Awards 2021 winners, Culture, here

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