The Jerwood DanceHouse Ipswich, Suffolk Arts Building Project, News, Tower Design, Image

The Jerwood DanceHouse England

Arts Development in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK – design by John Lyall Architects

13 Oct 2009

The Jerwood DanceHouse

Location: Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK

The Jerwood DanceHouse consists of:

4 studios (including a studio theatre)
Back-up areas including pilates and therapy suites
Resource Library and seminar room
Foyer and reception
The offices of the DanceEast administration
DanceEats café

The Jerwood DanceHouse occupies the western side of the site. Above it is the 23-storey landmark tower from which two further residential blocks cascade down. As well as enjoying a prime waterside position, the DanceHouse links well to the town behind it, giving DanceEast a strong street presence.

From the corner of College Street, to the north, and along its western elevation on Foundry Lane, the exterior cladding of the Jerwood DanceHouse is dark greeny-grey zinc panels, with strips of full-height glazing, some of which is clear, some etched. Zinc is a self-healing, naturally weather-proof material, which gives a suggestion of the site’s industrial history.

The old mill contained great, expansive spaces but, as in all Victorian industrial buildings, these dramatic spaces were broken up with columns. Such spaces are unsuitable for dance, which needs clear, uninterrupted spans. DanceEast’s director Assis Carreiro and John Lyall were determined to achieve a purpose-designed new building which would be tailor-made for DanceEast’s programme.

All the studios are completely clear double-height spaces, and one also functions as a 200 seat studio theatre.

It was possible to achieve these very light, lofty and clear volumes within a compact area by stacking the studios one above the other. The studios are heroic structural spaces within a complex arrangement.

The studios all contain very high quality sprung wooden dance floors, with well-ventilated environmental conditions and lighting, and good changing and dressing rooms, and storage. In line with DanceEast’s philosophy and activities, the studios are suitable for all, from professional dancers at the highest level to young school children.

The dimensions allowed for dance studios are also of great importance. A performance area of about 12 m by 12m is necessary for dance, and this has been achieved in every studio – the Red Shoe Studio provides almost double the amount.

The acoustic strategy for the dance studios is three fold. Firstly it blocks external environmental noise from outside, stopping it from penetrating into the studios. Secondly it prevents the sound from within the studios affecting the residents above the dance school and thirdly creates an acoustically efficient, high-intelligibility environment for music and speech within the studios and a pleasant environment in which to rehearse and perform. This has been achieved by constructing concrete floors on springs on top of the primary slabs and resting the acoustic internal room construction upon these floors, thus creating an acoustically isolated
‘box within a box’.

Detailed description of the four studios
Studio Theatre Within an overall space of (16m x 20m), the double-height ground floor Studio Theatre is an enclosed space, a theatre with seating for 200 and a stage/performance area of 15m x 12m. The seating can be folded back to the rear wall to allow the space to be used in the round or for other purposes and as a fully equipped production space. Warm-up spaces and swift access to and from the stage and dressing rooms have been carefully factored into the design. The Studio Theatre gives onto the courtyard at the heart of the scheme, which can be used for get-ins. There is also a cross-over wall giving dancers access onto both sides of the stage. The auditorium is lined with birch plywood, acoustically perforated.

Wellbeing Studio (12m x 12m) This is a square studio at ground level, on the corner of College Street and Foundry Lane. It has a natural wood sprung timber dance floor, wall bars, mirrors, cubby-holes for bags etc. There is natural ventilation with opening windows, plus comfort cooling when necessary. It enjoys both west and north-facing light.

Sir Frederick Ashton Studio (12m x 12m) This studio sits on Level 2, above the Wellbeing Studio. It has a sprung timber dance floor finished with Harlequin dance lino, wall bars, mirrors, cubby-holes for bags etc. It too enjoys natural ventilation with opening windows facing west and north, and comfort cooling is available when necessary. Although of the same shape, height and dimensions as the Wellbeing Studio below, the windows are differently proportioned, giving the Sir Frederick Ashton Studio its own quality of light and atmosphere.

The Red Shoe Studio (16m x 20m) Also on Level 2, sitting partly above the Studio Theatre, is the Red Shoe Studio. Long and rectangular, it is the second of the double-height studio spaces and can be divided into two studios by a sliding acoustic partition. The structural supports that frame this studio allow for a long, full height glass wall giving eastern daylight above shoulder level. The Red Shoe Studio has a sprung timber dance floor finished with Harlequin dance lino, wall bars, mirrors, cubby-holes for bags etc. It too enjoys natural ventilation with operable windows, with comfort cooling when required.

Back-up facilities
The changing rooms, dressing rooms and WCs are functional and robust with a lively use of colour. Each room is colour coded with a distinct colour to help orientation and navigation through the building.

Back-up facilities include:
Changing and dressing rooms around each studio (suitable for students, teachers and professional companies)
Room for therapy
Room for Pilates
Dance resource library
Seminar Room
Dancewear shop
Green Room

Foyer and reception
The Main Foyer serves as the social ‘hub’ of the building and an informal gathering area. It feels airy, simple and clear through use of light wall finishes and polished exposed concrete floors with plenty of natural light penetrating through large areas of glass. Ceilings are mainly exposed to allow for maximum height. Special attention has been given to the lighting scheme and to creating a warm atmosphere throughout the building by using feature lighting, spot lights and mixing warm tones with background fluorescent lighting. A grand feature staircase connects to the upper level of the foyer in a triple height atrium space.

A dramatic sculptural chandelier by award-winning designer Stuart Haygarth hangs in the void, visually connecting the upper and lower floors. The dynamics of the foyer space are organised around specific points of focus, such as the bar and a long bench recessed into the wall between the studio theatre entrances. The design of these furniture pieces have received special attention and are rich in colour and material set against the more neutral background of the space.

Just off the reception space, at street level, is the Jerwood DanceHouse café, DanceEats. Facing the quayside, it is the first of a line of bars, restaurants, shops and galleries which are opening beneath the lofty waterfront colonnade. With its curved expanse of double-height glazing, DanceEats will not only attract those using the Jerwood DanceHouse, but passers-by, as well. The mezzanine level provides a quieter area of the café. Here the views are even better, and internet access is offered from the counter tables.

As it turns the corner from Foundry Lane onto the waterfront, the tapering building follows the site boundary where the grain silos used to be. This provides an extended glazed promontory over the dock road right to the water’s edge. It is in this promontory, above the DanceEats café, that DanceEast’s offices are arranged with full height glazing and views southwest across the docks.

At the heart of the scheme is a public courtyard which connects the town centre with the waterfront. This attractive space can be used for occasional outdoor events and also serves as a ‘get-in’ for the studio theatre. The Jerwood DanceHouse has its own private terrace which overlooks this courtyard. To the south, the terrace also overlooks the river, and plays a visible role in the waterfront regeneration.

The Jerwood DanceHouse Ipswich information received 131009


17 Jul 2009

Sylvie Guillem, Tamara Rojo, Akram Khan, Richard Alston, Wayne McGregor, Mark Morris, Russell Maliphant, Ballet Boyz for opening season

The Jerwood DanceHouse, a major new international centre for dance developed by DanceEast, will open with a weekend of celebrations from 9 to 11 October 2009 as the cultural heart of a £70 million redevelopment of the waterfront in Ipswich.

The Jerwood DanceHouse Ipswich

As the first cultural development to be opened in Ipswich in over a decade, the £8.9 million DanceHouse designed by John Lyall Architects, will provide 2,500 square metres of state-of-the-art facilities for dance, among the best in Europe, featuring: four custom built dance studios including a 200 seat studio theatre with full production facilities, dressing rooms, therapy suites, green room, new headquarters offices for DanceEast, and a café and public courtyard, with views over the fast developing waterfront.

The opening season will include Inspired! an international celebration of dance training; a project with Wayne McGregor Random Dance in October, and an all star Gala evening on 7 November hosted by the Ballet Boyz featuring Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor, Leanne Benjamin, Tamara Rojo, Edward Watson, Richard Alston Company, Russell Maliphant and Sylvie Guillem. Mark Morris Dance Group will be in residence in November and will present performances at Snape Maltings as part of a Dance Umbrella/Dance Consortium national tour on 21 and 22 November. At Christmas TPO from Italy, one of the world’s leading visual theatre companies for children will present their acclaimed production, Butterflies. Will Tuckett will be in residence later in the year developing his new work for young audiences.

DanceEast, under the leadership of Assis Carreiro, has expanded rapidly since its foundation in Ipswich in 1983, and is now acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading dance organisation outside London. It presents a wide programme of education and community outreach, provides support for artists and has nurtured new audiences for dance. The new DanceHouse will enable DanceEast to become an international centre for dance excellence, hosting residencies and performances by major artists.

The DanceHouse has been funded through private and public partnership, including a major Capital Lottery Grant from Arts Council England, East of England Development Agency, Wharfside Regeneration, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, the Jerwood Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and many other trusts, foundations and individual donors.

The Jerwood DanceHouse Ipswich image / information received 170709

John Lyall Architects


The Jerwood DanceHouse : main page with photos

Jerwood DanceHouse Funding Credits
DanceEast is funded by Arts Council England East, Ipswich Borough Council and
Suffolk County Council. It won a significant Arts Lottery award from Arts Council
East, with partnership funding from East of England Development Agency, Suffolk
County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Wjarfside Regeneration and the Garfield
Weston Foundation. They launched the Red Shoe Appeal to secure the remaining
funds for the fit-out of the DanceHouse interior and received a grant of £500,000 from
the Jerwood Foundation. The new dance centre is now known as the Jerwood
DanceHouse. Additional funding came from a range of trusts and foundations and
private individuals.

The Jerwood DanceHouse
Supported by the Jerwood Foundation
Founding Benefactor: Garfield Weston Foundation
Major Donors: Foundation for Sport & the Arts, The Foyle Foundation
Patrons of Sir Frederick Ashton Studio: Martyn & Pippa Rose in memory
of Margaret Craig Rose
Founding Donors: Roger & Nina Finbow, Poulsen Selleck, The Rayne Foundation
Charlotte & Dennis Stevenson, Tezmae Trust

Jerwood DanceHouse Development Team
Architect John Lyall Architects
Contractor Morgan Ashurst (Fit-out)
Laing O’Rourke (Shell)
Project Managers Mouchel Management Consulting
Acoustic Design Paul Gillieron Acoustic Design
Services Design Harley Haddow
Structural Design Walsh Associates and Price & Myers
Theatre Consultants Carr and Angier


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The Jerwood DanceHouse Ipswich Building