Dance Instituition

Instructors: Lorain Kok, Teoh Swee Bing, Phyllis Low
Independent Project
Singapore Polytechnic
Year 3, 2011-2012

The building concept explores the relationships between the human heart, lungs and blood vessels and using them as analogies to the circulation and programme organization of the building. The idea of rejuvenation of blood cells in our body strikes a similarity to a dance centre that seeks to influence and rejuvenate the public’s mind on contemporary dance. Therefore, the public are like ‘blood cells’ while dancers act as ‘lungs’ that disseminates oxygen. 
In order to maintain identity and to ‘tread lightly’ on the existing site, a significantly large banyan tree is kept as the ‘heart’ of the development in a Central Courtyard. Main activities and circulation throughout the building revolves around the Central Courtyard, which is designed to be a relaxing and comfortable space for users to mingle around. 
In the human circulatory system, the heart acts like an engine in our body that circulates the flow of blood cells. Hence, blood cells have to pass through the heart in order to be pumped to other parts of the body. This concept is adopted and applied to the ‘heart’ of the development, which is the Central Courtyard. The journey throughout the building starts and ends at the Central Courtyard.
Human Respiratory System analogy to Spatial Configuration
Oxygen is supplied to blood cells as it passes through the human’s lung via blood vessels. The process of oxygenating act as analogy to the ‘oxygenation’ of public’s mind on dance culture. Therefore, blood vessels as analogy for public circulation route serve as main artery through the dance center.

Central Courtyard

Chance Encounters & Spatial Flexibility
Strategies in designing for chance encounters revolves around subtle visual connection enabled through programmatic juxtaposition and subtle visual interplay. In this part of the building, outdoor alfresco dining area meanders around dancer's dressing rooms, only segregated by a translucent window. The blackbox theater is wrapped around by public corridors, encouraging visitors to view dance choreography in the making. 
The blackbox theater also challenges the conventions of a prototypical dark room design. With the introduction of operable roof shades and blackout windows, the theater could introduce natural lighting into the space. Potentially, the function of blackbox theater could oscillate between an informal and formal one. 
Chance Encounters & Spatial Demarcation
In order to rejuvenate the public’s mind on contemporary dance, multiple ‘chance encounters’ between dancers and public are introduced within the communal and private corridors. This usually happens when public circulation paths cross the main corridor paths used by dancers and working staff. The design of fluid, open spaces provide opportunities for dancers and public to interact and mingle.
In this project, experimentation on the shifts of floor levels is important to differentiate different spatial programmes and for the process of rejuvenation. There are some private spaces where the public are not supposed to enter. Instead of using a mere concrete wall to segregate the spaces, the design of level differences creates a sense of invisible demarcation between the private and public zones, but yet still able to overlook each other.

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