English National Ballet, London

Project team

Architect:Glenn Howells Architects

Structural Engineer:OCSC

Main Contractor:BCSL (shell and core), BW (fit-out)

Concrete Contractor:Banagher Precast Concrete (precast)

Photos:Banagher Precast Concrete

Date of completion:2019

The new home for the English National Ballet, located on London City Island, is designed by Glenn Howells Architects. The building is the ENB’s workshop, a place where it can rehearse in a production space on the scale of where it will perform, as well as providing seven further studios and medical facilities.

The structural challenge of providing long spans with low reverberation for the 15m x 15m dance studios was achieved with 1m-deep, double-tee precast-concrete beams, combined with a cast insitu frame and 150mm topper screed.

Together, these three elements avoid movement by creating a monolith to absorb the considerable energy generated by 60 dancers. Perimeter columns of 600mm x 600mm (square) and 700mm diameter (round) are set out on a 7.5m grid. The 17.5 metre span of the green room was achieved using  prestressed W beams.

Offsite manufactured reinforced precast concrete stairs, beams and landings along with the prestressed beams also facilitated construction.

The low carbon in-situ concrete has a 50% ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) mix and is in a mid-grey to match the colour of the precast-concrete studio soffits. Three different standards of surface finish were specified to achieve the aesthetic, cost and performance requirements.

 A “special” finish was chosen for the prominent entrance soffit, lift cores and columns, created with plastic-finished shuttering boards for both a smooth surface and perfect board alignment.

A “plain” finish, without the same exacting setting-out, was used for awkward areas such as those next to lift lobbies, achieved with the same plastic-finished boards. In stair cores, escape staircases and in the largely concealed soffit of the open-plan office, an “ordinary” finish was specified using plywood shuttering.

Concrete provides more than just a cost effective structural solution, creating spaces with personality and durability, the thermal mass assisting with the thermal comfort of the internal spaces and keeping energy costs down.

This project was shortlisted for the offsite awards in the 'best use of concrete technology' category. The Conrete Centre proudly sponsors this category of the awards and makes use of images and project infomation from the awards entry.  

Featured in CQ Spring 2020 (pg 13)