Unusual plays key role at ENB headquarters
Tuesday, 22 September 2020
production-1loThe facilities include a suite of rehearsal studios and a full sized theatre space
UK - Unusual Rigging's work as designers and installers at English National Ballet's new HQ on London's City Island has been recognised as the building, delivered by Glenn Howells Architects has won the prestigious AJ100 Building of the Year award 2020.
The building was chosen ahead of eight other finalists and recognises the finest building completed by an AJ100-listed practice in the last 12 months. In choosing the ENB, the judges said three key aspects made the £36m project stand out from the impressive shortlist with one judge commenting on the range of functions accommodated by the building, which Glenn Howells has managed to pack on to relatively tight site 'with an almost Rubik's Cube-like stack of dance spaces slotted within'.
These include a suite of rehearsal studios and a full sized theatre space with stage and fly tower to accommodate full dress rehearsals in-house, together with all the ancillary studio and administration spaces and facilities needed to support the company's national touring programme. Everything from a tutu room to a loading bay for HGVs is provided.
Mark Priestley, head of capital projects at Unusual, comments: "This is a well deserved win for Glenn Howells Architects and of course we are thrilled to have been such an integral part of the process which led to the delivery of such a fine venue.
“This project broke new ground for Unusual as we were employed by ENB first and foremost to consult on this project. We then won the tender through BW Workplace Interiors to carry out the technical fit out. We also worked closely with the constructors, Ballymore in the early stages of the project, ensuring the shell was correct, advising on every aspect - from where to put all the steel in the roof for the flying system, to where to place the big beams for the galleries."
When BW Workplace Interiors took over the fit out of the building, Unusual remained a key part of the design team and carried out the technical fit out of the production studio, designing the production lighting facilities and specifying the stage floor.
Priestley continues: “By working as theatre consultants and being responsible for the fit out, we succeeded in keeping costs in check for ENB who were paying only for equipment which fit the building, not for any special work to be done to the building in order to accommodate the equipment. By being there from the start of the project, we delivered continuity which was of mutual benefit as, not at any stage did we have to come in and unpick or redesign any aspect of the project. We were able to steer the construction company to ensure the right sort of floor was installed and that the right sort of access through the loading bay was considered. Most importantly it meant that we delivered the project within a very tight budget.”
Priestley concludes: “This latest win is a hat-trick for us in the architectural sector, with ENB joining Garsington Opera Pavilion and the Shaftesbury Theatre fly tower as award-winning projects. We are incredibly proud of our growing reputation within this industry as being the go-to people for delivering projects which require specialist theatre knowledge and expertise.”

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