February – July 2005, Rome, Italy

Ninety percent of new cinemas are born in the peripheries, as the city centre cinemas are often closing down. The aim of this project is to think of the cinema container as a typology in order to create a model that can survive the pressure of the centre and the profitability of the suburban multiplex.
We believe that cinemas again can play a role in cities.

The shopping malls, the Ikeas, … are continuously full of people. These containers of urban life are placed at the peripheries, where they enjoy large surface area and parking. In the meantime, the cities proudly call on the so-called superstar architects to design their operas and theatres. The divorce of the cinema and architecture made the cinema move out of town together with Carrefour. Why has the Cinema to be relegated to share space with the suburban supermarkets when its colleagues retained and enhanced their positions in the city?

This project will not criticize the suburban cinema; we will explore the enormous potential of the cinema as an institution for the city and we will create a typology for the city centre as an alternative to the suburban multiplex.
This exile of the cinema is happening at a time when Ikea may start colonizing the centres as well. In 2007, Coventry (UK) will be the first city in the world to open an Ikea store in its city centre. To that end Ikea will adapt its original concept and provide its big-box shape with some ‘architecture and urban features’.
In this operation of returning bits of the periphery back into the cities, cinemas may play a significant role. It is becoming urgently necessary to create a typology of a building that can live within the city, share its activity, and even generate more. This building will be generated from its programme and essence, and will return to the cinema its special and urban qualities.

Going to the movies can be like having sex; it can be a very quick and immediate experience or a much more elongated activity with diverse stimulating foreplays and relaxing afterplays. Both options can be enjoyable. The suburban cinema provides the quick and dirty experience; parking, entering a hideous foyer, watching the movie and quickly being kicked out through the fire exit. The new typology will provide the alternative; to recreate the foreplay and afterplay in two kinds of spaces: the Red Room and the Blue Room. The Red room will fully prepare the spectator for the upcoming experience: disconnect from reality for two hours and be transported into a fantasy, while the Blue Room will gently bring the cinema goer back to the real world. The Red and Blue rooms remain open and in contact with the city. Only the projection room will be enclosed. During the hours when movies are being played this horizontal sequence glorifies the fantastic experience and during daytime, the Red and Blue Rooms work vertically hosting independent programmes. These vertical and horizontal functioning make the building more profitable and more relevant to the city, and provide 24/7 activity.
This particular cinema is located in Rome, and is part of the regeneration process of the Mercati Generali area into a cultural and recreational area with spas, ‘mediatheques’, restaurants, museums, and a large parking garage.


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Title: Cinemas
Project name: Research about Cinema typology for the inner cities + Design of Cinema building
Date: January – July 2005
Type: Graduation Project
Location: Rome, Italy
Site: Mercati Generali
Programme: 13 Cinema Rooms (1 room: 500 m² + 3 rooms: 300 m² + 6 rooms 200 m² + 3rooms 80 m²), Media-centre, Exhibition spaces, Bar-cafes, Lounge.
Surface: Above ground: 5790 m², Underground: 1700
Status: Graduation Project
Client: N/A
Budget: N/A
-Arquitectura e Vida #92, Lisbon, Portugal, April 08
-Architectuur NL #06, May, 2010
Exhibitions: West Arch – A New Generation in Architecture at the Ludwig Forum für International Kunst, Aachen, Germany, September 12 – November 14, 2010
STAR Team: Beatriz Ramo
Collaborators: Bernd Upmeyer, Theo Deutinger, José Tovar, Ernesto Roba, Marieke Kums, Johannes Schele, Caro Baumann
Extra: Thanks to: Eduardo de Miguel, Ana Ramo, Ana Beatriz López-Angulo, Javier Ramo, and Laurent Troost