The dance studio and fitness suite extension to the existing Sion Manning RC Girls’ School in North Kensington is fully integrated into the centre of the visual arts college. The National-Lottery funded extension is to be used not only by the pupils but also by the local community.
The double-height dance studio volume is expressed as a lightweight clerestory, floating above a solid, dark brown masonry base that includes entrance, a fitness suite and changing.
Insulated glazing above the dance studio gives different light and solar transmission on each side of the high room. Natural ventilation is through wind-catchers mounted on the roof. Culminating in a large window overlooking the playing fields, the long exercise room is shaped around spaces for exercise machine and workout. Natural light reaches the length of the room through a slender skylight.
The dance studio itself is a naturally lit and ventilated double height space. Overheating in summer is counteracted through the use of specialist triple glazing that reduces heat gain and cuts out glare. The dance studio has two roof mounted passive ventilation shafts that provide natural ventilation to the room and mean that there is no need for air conditioning.
Through its simplicity and truth to materials, the transformation has been unanimously admired by users and visitors and has elevated the appeal of the school.