English National Ballet, London

Our M&E engineering design from RIBA Stage 1 to 7 was a critical feature in creating new world-class, purpose-built facilities for English National Ballet and English National Ballet School in east London.

English National Ballet entrance Tom Green Photography

Through all RIBA design stages, 1 to 7, Hydrock acted as the M&E and structural engineering designer for the fit-out design of the state-of-the-art, purpose-built new home for English National Ballet and English National Ballet School in east London, which opened in 2019.

Working in collaboration with Glenn Howells Architects, the five-storey, 93,000 sq ft building is four times the size of their previous buildings. It represents a transformational move that gives them an unprecedented space to develop world-class artists and create outstanding ballet to share with more people than ever before.

Critical to our work, especially the mechanical and electrical systems design, was our early-stage engagement with English National Ballet and English National Ballet School to understand their unique needs from the building. This process, for all parties, included recognising that the new space would offer a complete change for our client in what they could expect from the space they occupied. The early design stage process offered them an opportunity to put forward what they ideally wanted the building to give them.

As part of the design team, the process for Hydrock centred around understanding how English National Ballet and the School operate and the very specific needs of each part of their respective companies, for example, from production space to wardrobe, from recovery space to learning space. The design needed to reflect that every room in the building would have a unique purpose – all part of supporting the creation of world-class talent and performance.

Working with Glenn Howells Architects and construction and fit-out specialists, BW, our M&E and structural design helped shape all the new features of this purpose-built facility, including:

  • Production studio with fly-tower designed for rehearsal with full set and lighting
  • Seven state-of-the-art full-sized rehearsal studios
  • Costume workshop with dye room and shoe room
  • Two learning and engagement spaces
  • Hydrotherapy pool, gym and pilates studio
  • Green room and spacious dancer changing rooms, with separate public changing rooms
  • Café and exhibition space for the public

There is dedicated space on the 4th and 5th floors for English National Ballet School including, three rehearsal studios, a lecture theatre, rehabilitation facilities, gym and green room.

With English National Ballet marking its 70th anniversary in 2020, the organisation now occupies their new iconic building at Ballymore’s newly developed London City Island, a mixed-use district in Canning Town, east London, on a peninsula between the River Lea and the Thames.

Along with winning the prestigious Architect’s Journal award for Building of the Year in September 2020, the building was awarded a RIBA London Award and crowned RIBA London Building of the Year in August 2021.

Images © Tom Green Photography.