• Cinema Exotica

    13 June 2018

    A high-end cinema experience in Shanghai takes its design cues from a golden age of storytelling and fantasy

    Opulence and minimalism make for odd bedfellows. One conventional understanding of opulence is detail – the antithesis of minimalism. But what if you could seamlessly combine both? What might you call it? Alexander Wong Architects says it’s Cinema Exotica.

    Within the VivoCity Shopping Centre in Shanghai lies a cinephile destination par excellence. The recently opened Cinema City is a premium movie theatre that deftly combines luxurious surroundings and premium-looking finishes with a sleek modernist twist. You won’t find finials and frippery for fantasy’s sake here. Instead, moviegoers are transfixed by a serenity borne of a modernist take on Arabian Nights, the 1941 adventure film based on the Middle Eastern folk tales in One Thousand and One Nights.

    In the new VivoCity Shopping Mall managed by Singaporean developer Mapletree, the interior fit-out for Cinema City pushes new frontiers in mixing culture and design. The interiors are a symbol of “East meets Arabia” in the mainland’s most culturally diverse city, Shanghai.

    Modern Arabia

    Alexander Wong Architects has a hard-earned reputation for high-end retail design, interior design for luxury homes and, yes, cinema design, in its prestigious portfolio. The practice was given four objectives in its design brief for Cinema City:

    • Their work was to create a new level of excellence in cinema entertainment;
    • To make City Cinema an entertainment icon;
    • Respect the culture of movie goers by presenting local and international themes; and
    • Make Cinema City Shanghai one of the mainland’s most exotic cinemas.

    The solution was to combine themes from across the Middle East and Eastern Europe, incorporating the richness inherent throughout these cultures. Working with a budget of £1.36 million, the practice was tasked with creating the public areas, including the box office and bar area; a gallery; VIP lounge and cinema; house cinemas; and bathrooms.

    Throughout the cinema the branding is prominent, set against cream, white and gold tones. Pockets of colour erupt in unexpected places, inspiring and provoking the senses. The vibrant colours play against hypnotic repeating patterns, filling the space with sensuality and excitement. It is a look which meets at the intersection of style and glamour.

    Sense of Scale

    One of the most striking spaces in the design for the rectangular floorplan is the Gallery Exotique, a functional space that serves as the corridor to the cinema’s screening halls. The practice says it created a memorable environment by merging Arabian-patterned tiles in turquoise, emerald and green.

    The tiles on the ceiling and floor swirl and shimmer, drawing patrons deeper into the cinema complex. Benches outside the cinemas appear to have been poured from liquid, their design is seamlessly integrated into the walls. The house numbers glow in Arabic calligraphy.

    The design for the VIP Lounge – or Harem – takes its inspiration from exotic and sensual interpretations of Arabic and Turkish harems in paintings from classical masters from the French artist that captured the romanticism in idealised Asia in the Orientalism movement of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Appropriately, the palette here is more complex and the rich, regal colours of purple, crimson and aquamarine are combined with elegant metallic touches to create a softer environment matched by curved couches and a swooping bar area.

    Destination Creation

    The ceiling heights throughout the cinema appear cathedral-like in scale. It’s a wonderful piece of visual manipulation. Take the ceiling of the ticketing area: by creating a spray of mirrored, golden leaves, backlit by appropriate soft lighting, the space takes on extra gravitas and another dimension in terms of spaciousness. The motif is said to resemble a golden palm and to inspire the fantastical.

    Deeper into the design and the sense of spaciousness intensifies. Design elements are seemingly elongated, light and predominantly vertical. The eye is drawn upwards. The effect is perhaps most striking in the bathrooms – an all-too frequently ignored zone for creative interior design.

    This work by Alexander Wong Architects blends opulence with understatement to make an Arabian fantasy world come true.

    More Design
    The Healing blue
    The Xiamen Guangyin Mountain Chamber is a project of 1,280 square metres in Xiamen, China, designed by Hu Ke and Wang Rui of H&W Design Office and completed in September 2017. Overlooking the sea, the interior is softly lit and exudes the low-key opulence of old Shanghai, which makes the rooms in it seem like places where nostalgic tales were told. The entire building is made of synthetic [...]
    QUALITY AND QUANTITY ~ ITALIAN STYLE
    PRC Magazine was proud to be part of an Asian delegation of architects and interior designers, and for the first time two members of Hong Kong’s local press, invited by the Italian Trade Group to attend Europe’s largest ceramic fair, CERSAIE 2017, held in Bologna, Italy in September last year.  Arguably the world’s most important and comprehensive gathering, this unique event [...]
    A Quarter of a Century of Meticulous Craftsmanship
    Plan In are a professional interiors and contracting company driven by obsessive quality control, a focus on the heights of luxury and a desire to raise standards across the board. And, until now, they’ve largely flown under the radar. Plan In Interiors and Contracting are an anomaly in a market where haste and cost are often valued above craft and quality. Over the course of 25 years, Plan [...]
    From Collaboration to Award-Winning Bespoke Design
    Spatial Concept designs innovative open plan office for leading law firm When international law firm Ince & Co moved from ICBC Tower in Central to one of Hong Kong’s newest and most prestigious and high-tech office towers, they looked to award-winning boutique design studio Spatial Concept to help them create a new work environment that would mirror the success of their recently [...]
    Good Morning Saigon reimagines the traditional street food stall
    Street food culture has thrived in Asia for centuries. Served via ramshackle roadside stalls and roaming food carts, street food is inexpensive, swiftly prepared and served ready-to-eat, perfect for frenetic city living. For locals, street food and its stalls are a daily staple and gathering point for the community; for tourists and travellers, the cuisine’s signature ingredients, indulgent [...]
    Hanoi Food Exhibition Excites the Senses
    MIA Design Studio have unveiled a Vietnamese food pavilion in Hanoi to showcase the country’s rich culinary history. Set over a site of approximately 72m2, the project’s design philosophy draws from elements of traditional Vietnamese life that many feel are being lost in the wake of continued urbanisation and rapid economic development in the country’s ever-expanding metropolitan areas. [...]
    Hamburg’s new architectural landmark
    Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall was officially opened in January 2017. Its glass structure and fluid wavelike roof is perched on top of a 1960s Werner Kallmorgen warehouse. Lying at the western point of the new HafenCity, Europe’s largest inner-city urban development project, and in direct proximity to the [...]
    The man behind the brand lands on shores to open first flagship store in south east Asia, Tom Dixon in Hong Kong
    (1 June 2017, Hong Kong)British designer, Tom Dixon arrived in Hong Kong this week to officially open his first store in South East Asia. The duplex store takes a prime location on Hollywood Road, Central Hong Kong and comprises of a showroom of Tom Dixon’s latest furniture, lighting and home accessories on the ground floor with more pieces displayed at the first floor café. Yesterday [...]
    A first glimpse of the all-new ArtisTree multi-purpose space
    (Hong Kong, 31 May, 2017) – Hong Kong media got an early ‘sneak peek’ of the all-new ArtisTree today, in anticipation of the month-long series of artistic events, commencing on 8 June, to celebrate the launch of the dynamic performance arts venue. (中文简体版请按此) From left: Nic Muni, Artistic Director of ‘La Traviata’ presented by ‘More than Musical’, Lucy Choi, [...]