Herzog and de Meuron Stirling Prize
by Don Barker
On October 12, the Royal Institute of British Architects announced the 2003 winner of the coveted Stirling Prize. This year's honor went to Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron for Laban, a center for contemporary dance in the London suburb of Deptford.
Londoners are familiar with the Swiss architects' successful renovation of the Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern, but this is the firm's first new building in the United Kingdom. They have crafted a translucent building of polycarbonate — best known for its use in greenhouses and garden sheds — to finally show the British public what Herzog and de Meuron architecture is all about.
Laban stands out like a beacon of optimism in the heart of Deptford, where it serves not only as a major new cultural landmark, but as a catalyst, it is hoped, for the area's cultural, physical, and social regeneration.
The building was erected on the site of a former rubbish dump on the banks of a muddy tidal creek, so extensive decontamination was required before construction began. The Deptford Creekside had been heavily industrialized for centuries. It had been a famous royal dockyard and home to Russian Czar Peter the Great during the late 17th century when he was in Britain studying new developments in shipbuilding. >>>
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Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have just received the Stirling Prize for Laban, a center for contemporary dance.
Photo: Don Barker
The interior is characterized by floating volumes, curving black concrete walls, and "Bendywood" handrails.
Photo: Dennis Gilbert
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