Dezeen Magazine

Undulating roof of Siobhan Davies Dance Studio echoes movements of its users

This video tour published in collaboration with Open House London offers a look inside the dynamic and tactile Siobhan Davies Dance Studio, designed by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects.

The movie, filmed by Ed Bishop, is one of a series of videos that are being published on Dezeen throughout the festival to spotlight unusual and overlooked places in the capital.

Siobhan Davies Dance Studio was completed by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects in 2006 within the shell of a derelict brick school building in south London.

It is distinguished by the timber-lined vaults of its roof, which undulates over the top of the existing building and was designed as a nod to the movements of dancers below.

Siobhan Davies Dance Studio by Sarah Wigglesworth Architecture in London
Sarah Wigglesworth inside Siobhan Davies Dance Studio

In this video, the architecture studio's founder, Sarah Wigglesworth, offers a tour of the studio and sheds light on the concepts behind its design.

"The ideas behind it were looking at the relationship between architecture and dance," explained Wigglesworth.

"Many of the moves that we made were about trying to break out of the constraints of bricks and mortar and play with ideas of repetition, rhythm, weightlessness, tension, gravity, fluidity and so forth."

Other notable details in the building include its highly tactile finishes, which have been achieved by retaining and celebrating many of the original details of the school.

This includes glazed brickwork and imprints from the treads of an old staircase, identified by Wigglesworth in the film, which the studio removed to create one big space.

Siobhan Davies Dance Studio by Sarah Wigglesworth Architecture in London
The studio's undulating roof echoes the movement of the dancers

Throughout the documentary, the studio's director Siobhan Davies illuminates the importance and impact of the studio's design to her as a dancer.

"Touch is incredibly important to me as a dancer and choreographer," Davies said. "I want to feel the floor underneath my feet. And I want to feel the air, the ambience that I exist within and that I move within, and the building is so rich in a sense of touch."

"When a dancer enters into this space, it is a place of wonder for them," she concluded.

Siobhan Davies Dance Studio by Sarah Wigglesworth Architecture in London
Tactile finishes from the original school building's walls

Dezeen is the media partner for Open House London and is publishing a different video every day during the festival, which runs from 19 to 27 September.

The films are part of the festival's move to diversify its programme and make it more accessible in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has impacted the number of buildings able to throw their doors open to the public.

Open House London takes place at venues across London and online from 19 to 27 September. Videos will be published on Dezeen each day during the festival. See Dezeen Events Guide for details of more architecture and design events.

Project credits:

Guide: Siobhan Davies and Sarah Wigglesworth
Producer: Nyima Murry
Videographer: Ed Bishop of Stephenson/BishopFilms