Ballet, in Asia, is often dismissed as an aristocratic passé, or mistaken for a weak and feminine art form. How does one reframe this story to a new Chinese audience? That was the brief we gave ourselves when former members of the National Ballet of China approached us to design their new foundation.
We explored instead, a dual-faceted notion of Ballet, focusing on the one hand, a visual performance of light and grace, and on the other, an intense expression of strength and discipline, often internalized amongst dancers. Thus, the “entry”, akin to Ballet’s external expression, is made as both sculptural spectacle and as passage, rendered in gradients of light. The studio proper, in contrast, is carried through with more solemn palette of greys in varying textures from unfinished concrete to thin set epoxy resin.
To create a seamless sculptural passage, the stair geometry is defined by two rails, one that traces the hand from the edge of the info desk onto the stair rail, another from the outer rail onto the wall, and ceiling. The surface between the rails adopts a slight curvature, generating concave and convex surfaces that gently gradate the northern daylight, thereby giving lightness to the form. Burnt Sienna white was specified in matte and gloss for the walls and inner rail respectively, to complete the space just a touch of warmth against the cooler concrete.