London & South East, Premier Construction

Arthouse cinema is a work of art in itself

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Retail Design Expo
Retail Design Expo

Curzan Cinema, Bloomsbury

Being transformed into what has been called “a cinema like no other” the re-named Curzon Bloomsbury (formerly Renoir Cinema) in Bloomsbury is set to open in March following a comprehensive upgrade and expansion.

The project, being carried out by main contractors Phelan Construction and designed by Takero Shimazaki of t-sa, was undertaken thanks to major investment by Curzon Cinemas and supported by Bertha DocHouse.

Situated on the ground floor and two lower levels of the listed modernist style Brunswick centre, the cinema closed in June 2014 for the extensive refurbishment.

The project has involved converting the independent cinema from two screens to six (two larger and four smaller screens), with one being the Bertha DocHouse screen dedicated to documentary.

With a capacity of 320, this increase in screens will mean an opportunity to show smaller releases for a longer period of time via the latest 4K high-definition digital projectors. The venue also has two foyers and a bar on the ground floor. The bar will also have an outside seating area in the summer.

Takero Shimazaki told Premier Construction:

“The Curzon Bloomsbury will be a cinema like no other. The Brunswick centre is an important listed building and one of the most iconic in London. The new cinema interior has therefore been designed with regard to respecting the original building, from which we have taken design cues to create what we hope will become the leading independent cinema in Europe.

“We watched a number of arthouse cinema films and tried to re-create the atmosphere in some of the scenes from these, resulting in a cosy, intimate yet very public feel to the venue.

“The challenge for us was to create something of real significance and not just another cinema. Our approach to the design was that we were interested in creating various atmospheric themes within the building – for example we go from a very open ground floor with a glass structure down to a darker void in the two lower levels where the screens are located.

“We have used a minimalist palette of various materials which relate to the original concrete materiality. For instance the new staircase from the ground floor down to the first and second levels below is in a subtle pink coloured concrete – so for the first time the cinema enjoys a very open vertical void where light filters through to the minus two level.

“Other materials we specified include bronze for all the balustrading, red textured fabric for the seating, walls and ceiling in the VIP area and polished plaster in all the foyers. All of the materials are stripped to the essentials – for example in the lounge we have simple plastered walls and carpeting to complement the exposed concrete of the steps leading down to the auditorium, and gold coloured doors at the entrances to all the screens.

“We selected all of the furniture from a range produced by early 20th century architect and furniture designer the late Eileen Gray with Aram – and this is the first building to house all her furniture in one big public area.

“We really wanted to create a place where people could escape from the city and enter a space with these unique qualities.”

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