Rambert's new home on London's Southbank

Date Wed 4 December 2013

Britain’s national contemporary dance company Rambert has taken up residence in its new, £19.6million home in the heart of London’s South Bank. The state-of-the-art facility includes dance studios, treatment and body conditioning rooms, workshops, offices and an archive. It was designed by award-winning architects Allies and Morrison and built by VINCI Construction UK.

The new building, 12 years in the planning, is located on a site on Upper Ground owned by social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders. This land has been made available to Rambert in return for a commitment to provide a significant community dance programme in the local area, and for a peppercorn rent of one pair of ballet shoes a year. In a challenging economic environment, Rambert has successfully raised £12.6million from private sources, and an additional £7 million of public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, which together have enabled the project to be realised.

Rambert’s new building is a place for making dance

The facility is purpose-built to nurture, develop and realise the creative visions of the best of today and tomorrow’s choreographers and dancers. It is equipped both for them and the huge range of collaborators who are drawn to working in dance: academics, composers, designers, dramaturges, musicians, technologists, visual artists, writers, and more. Its design opens up the creative process, giving visitors and passers-by insight into the work of a world-class dance company. The ambition is that the landmark dances for the next 100 years will be created in the building.

It gives dance a permanent home on London’s Southbank

Rambert will bring dance to the heart of one of the country’s most important cultural hubs. From this base, it will take its work to people throughout the country, with the most far-reaching touring programme of any British contemporary dance company. Over three-quarters of Rambert’s performances take place outside of London, in towns and cities throughout the UK, complemented by equally extensive education and community-based work.

It creates new opportunities for Rambert and its neighbours

Connections with the local neighbourhood will extend to all parts of the community. People of all ages and abilities will be welcomed into the building to join in dance classes, and the daily activity of the building will be opened up to visitors, both in person and online, as will the extensive archive of Britain’s oldest dance company.

It helps sustain the future of Britain’s oldest dance company

The new home will bring Rambert new revenue, with increased capacity for classes and facility hire. It employs green technologies to minimise the Company’s environmental impact. Along with such tangible benefits, the hope is that everyone who comes into the building will be inspired with confidence and ambition for Rambert’s future as Britain’s national contemporary dance company.

Rambert in 2014

During the first year in its new building, Rambert’s home will be a hub for making new works, restaging classic repertory, creative collaborations and community engagement.

Plans include:

  • Three new large-scale commissions for the company:
    • a new work by artistic director Mark Baldwin, created in collaboration with acclaimed visual artist Katie Paterson, with music including a specially commissioned work by former Rambert music fellow Cheryl Francis-Hoad
    • a first creation for Rambert from Shobana Jeyasingh, one of the UK’s foremost independent choreographers
    • a new work by Alexander Whitley, a former Rambert dancer recently appointed associate artist with the company.
  • Reviving two classic works from Rambert’s past repertoire:
    • Christopher Bruce’s iconic dance to the music of the Rolling Stones Rooster , first performed by Rambert in 1994 and last revived in 2001
    • Four Elements, a 1990 commission for Rambert by celebrated US choreographer Lucinda Childs, to original music by Gavin Bryars.
  • The creation of site-specific works for the building, including projects delivered in collaboration with Rambert’s cross-disciplinary residents and fellows: scientist in residence Professor Nicola Clayton, artist in residence Abigail Reynolds, and music fellow Kate Whitley.
  • Increasing the number of young people and adults taking part in Rambert’s open access dance classes and workshops by 40%.
  • Establishing an archive service which offers readily available access to the Company’s extensive collection to researchers, students and the public for the first time. With more than 10,000 items in total, the collection holds over 500 costumes, 700 posters, thousands of images, costumes and artefacts, dance notation and over 650 hours of newly digitised footage.

Key dates for 2014

·         Thu 6 – Sat 8 February: New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Revival premiere of Christopher Bruce’s Rooster

·         Tue 20 – Sat 24 May: Sadler’s Wells, LondonRevival premiere of Lucinda Childs’s Four Elements

·         Wed 24 – Fri 26 September: Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Premiere of Mark Baldwin’s new work

·         Tue 18 – Sat  22 November: Sadler’s Wells, London

Premiere of new Shobana Jeyasingh work

The company’s touring plans for 2014 also include performances in Aberdeen, Brighton, Mold, Oxford, Newcastle, Bromley, Salford, Canterbury, Norwich, Llandudno and Edinburgh.

About Rambert’s new home

  • The new building covers 3,650 square metres of floor space. It is the first major, purpose-built dance facility to open in London for 10 years.
  • It is located on Upper Ground in the heart of London’s South Bank, next to Waterloo Bridge and facing the National Theatre. Its concrete structure was chosen for its thermal properties and acknowledges the architecture of the South Bank’s other iconic arts buildings.
  • The building’s three main studios have been named the Marie Rambert Studio, after the company’s founder; the Mercury Studio, acknowledging the Mercury Theatre, the company’s first home; and the Anya Linden Studio, in recognition of the generous contribution to the fundraising campaign from two of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts: Monument Trust and Linbury Trust.
  • The Marie Rambert studio is 306.75 square metres - the equivalent size of the stage at Sadler’s Wells which is the largest theatre space the Company regularly tours to.
  • Exposed precast concrete double T beams achieve efficient spanning of the studios without pillars, and allows complex services including mechanical ventilation ductwork to be run into the spaces unobtrusively.
  • Rambert is the only UK contemporary dance company to tour with its own orchestra. In the Marie Rambert Studio the orchestra and dancers will be able to rehearse together for the first time, before they reach the venues.
  • Other facilities include physiotherapy and body conditioning facilities, and a sauna.
  • Rambert’s archive is tanked within the building’s basement, protecting it from ingress from the water table, and has carefully managed climate control to protect the collections. The archive also has a dedicated reading room, the ICAP Room.
  • The digitisation of Rambert’s archive footage was made possible thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • The building features specially commissioned artworks by leading British artists Gary Breeze, Goshka Macuga, Abigail Reynolds and Catherine Yass.
  • The total cost of the development is £19.6million. Rambert raised £12.6million towards these costs from private sources, matched by a £7million capital award from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Rambert’s Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin, said:“I am so excited by the opportunities our new home offers - not just a building fit for purpose that our fabulous dancers can train and work in, but a laboratory ripe for creating new work, for collaboration with world class artists, and for generating new ideas. Every aspect of this building has been designed with the express purpose of laying bare the process of contemporary dance, allowing us to create an open house that will excite and inspire audiences. The time has come for dance to take its place on the South Bank among other prestigious arts organisations, and it seems fitting to me that Rambert, with its unique combination of heritage and pioneering vision, is the company to bring it here.”

Rambert’s Chief Executive, Nadia Stern, said:Creating a new home for Rambert has been a huge collaborative effort from everyone involved, and it is testament to 12 years of dedicated work that we are now able to take up residency in this wonderful building. We could not have got here without the generous support and vision of Iain Tuckett at Coin Street Community Builders, the Arts Council England and all of our donors.”