News: Transfer Laban - part of London Festival of Architecture

Monday 13 June 2016 by Carmel Smith

Laban building. Photo: Peter Smith

Over the next ten days (13 – 23 June), as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016, a full-scale replica of the façade of the Laban Building will be constructed and deconstructed in Canary Wharf’s Montgomery Square. The installation – Transfer Laban – is being created by German artist Wolfgang Weileder, in a commissioned by Locus+.

The innovative Laban Building, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, won the RIBA Stirling Prize back in 2003. Over the two-week period, the façade will be built in sections in a choreographed sequence that sees it physically and metaphorically transfer. Using white lightweight concrete blocks and dry joint techniques, each section will be visible for a single day before being deconstructed and erected as the next section. Animating the space in this temporary way, Weileder’s aim is to invite a new and fresh engagement with different aspects of the existing built environment of Canary Wharf.

Wolfgang Weileder, explains: “I wanted to challenge the perception of architecture being permanent by creating something momentary and animated. Part-performance, part-installation, Transfer Laban is a temporary gesture within the space. The simultaneous construction and deconstruction is almost like a slow dance in itself and aims to challenge the relationship between art and architecture, as well as its audience and environment.”

Weileder wanted to work with a building which was not only important for its extraordinary architecture, but for its nurturing of cultural activity. The Laban Building is home to the Faculty of Dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. One of the world’s leading schools for music and contemporary dance, Trinity Laban also has a pioneering education and community programme – and collaborating with Trinity Laban has played an important part in the artwork’s development.

Throughout the partnership, students from Trinity Laban are bringing a second component to the installation. They have developed a series of performances in response to the artwork, which will be performed in Montgomery Square twice each day in breaks during construction. Jonathan Owen Clark, Head of Research at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance says: “Trinity Laban is delighted to be involved in this collaboration between artist Wolfgang Weileder and choreographer and Trinity Laban Dance Faculty member Charles Linehan. This will be an exciting public art event that features our building in an original and surprising context, and will also introduce dance performance into a highly visible public and unique architectural space.”

Another important element in this public art project is the creation of new partnerships with students of colleges in Barking, Tower Hamlets and Havering, as well as the construction companies who are facilitating its realisation. The project will result in very little waste and, at the end of the project the concrete blocks and other components will be donated to the participating colleges.

Sally Williams, Public Art Consultant at Canary Wharf Group says: “This opportunity to collaborate with Locus+ and Wolfgang Weileder has provided Canary Wharf with an exceptional contribution to this year’s London Festival of Architecture. Public art at Canary Wharf takes many forms, demonstrating our diverse cultural offering, and plays an important part in helping to engage with the myriad visitors to the estate, often bringing new audiences. We are looking forward to seeing Wolfgang’s unique installation taking shape in Montgomery Square and watching how dancers from Trinity Laban engage with it.”

Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5JJ
13-24 June 2016. Weekdays 07.30am – 4.30pm

More on London Festival of Architecture 2016:

Photo: Peter Smith

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