Mumbai’s popular youth destination – attracting students and young professionals from the vicinity, Fun Cinemas is one of the most frequently visited multiplexes in the city. However, the ever-transforming megacity and the rise in competition questioned the relevance of this Andheri-based hangout. It became necessary to adapt to the changing times and elevate the cinema experience to a completely new level. Renovation wasn’t the only goal; the idea was to create a new design language in the entertainment industry.
“The client wanted a futuristic yet luxurious cinematic experience for the patrons. As opposed to other multiplexes around town, Fun Cinema had a relatively larger area (30,000sq-ft) to work with and the client wished to optimise it,” points out ShubhashishModi, principal architect of Arris Architects – the firm commissioned for this retrofit project. The overall design had to go a step further andcreate an innovative space that takes into consideration the past and also prepares for the future. Arris Architects were posed with the challenging task of reviewing existing functions/services and conceptualisinga futuristicand contextual design.
“It was a challenge to conceptualise a theme that would hold together completely different spatial configurations of both lobbies along with the approaching corridors,” adds Modi. Rather than focussing on the space alone, the design team kept the cinema patrons at the epicentre of the complete experience.The first step into this interactive and social design was creating an open entrance lobby, sans obtrusive entry glass doors –creating an inviting ambience with a sneak peak into the new space. Departing from the cold,commercial feel that most cinema lobbies are known to project,here the cinema lobbyis envisioned as an exclusive lounge. The design team wanted to subconsciously establish an interaction with the patron through the aesthetics of the space.
The four-screen multiplex, seating approximately 1,000 patrons, is accessible from two cinema lobbies at different levels – one low height lobby and another with a double height. Two distinct concession counters are provided, each providing the patron with a different experience.The auditoriums are designed as elite enclosures subtly shifting the focal point to the cinema watching experience, accentuating its cosiness and comfort.
The low-height concession lobby (snack kiosk or lounge outside each screen)was visualised as trajectories of lines derived by Fibonacci sequence around the main concession counter. The lines are expressed purely in the form of lights on the ceiling with its reflection on the flooring adding to the resultant dramatic feel of the lobby. Reflective flooring surfaces, created using polished black granite and Italian marble, lend an elegant aura to the space. The backlit onyx counter adds warmth to the space dominated by black flooring and ceiling and also complements the lighting.
The lobbies and auxiliary areas have been planned efficiently so as to reduce clutter. “This is a major part of our sustainable renovation, for less clutter leads to better utilisation of space and in turn reduces the time, energy and money spent on maintenance,” states Modi. The existing HVAC systems didn’t provide uniform cooling in all the zones making it inadequate and hampering the cinema experience.The entire system was re-planned to ensure energy optimisation and appropriate cooling for each zone.
Striking design elements can be found everywhere at Fun Republic, even in an otherwise monotonous space like corridors.The passageway ceilings are flanked with a series of suspended acrylic panels of different shades of copper.LED lights illuminate the unique texture on the individual metal panels, adding a visual depth to the ceiling. Walls are cladded with high gloss wooden paneling with steel inlays in horizontal direction.An intimate play of geometric patterns with an almost 3D appearance created using stone veneer provides an arresting backdrop to the lounge seating area. By selecting materials like stone veneer, which is just a 3mm layer of natural stone, the team maintained a Green approach in the project. Such materials reduce the use of natural recourses to minimum without compromising on the aesthetics.
“A great deal of emphasis was laid on sustainability. Lighting loads are generally high in cinemas, working continuously for almost 16 hours a day. To reduce this running cost,LED lighting was the only option,”mentions Modi. The challenge was to create different mood settings using various LED lights; careful deliberation was needed to get the desired output for the entire cinema complex. The auditoria and concession lobbies including toilets are lit solely by LED lighting systems.The use of ambient lighting ensured that no additionalfixtureswere required for generalillumination, with the feature lights playing a dual role. These measures reduced the overall lighting loadby almost 50%, according to the design team.
The design language of Fun Republic captivates the essence of movie making, the complete experience attempting to create a spatial drama with lines and lights, patterns and palettes, textures and materials. The result? An engaging, entertaining and enchanting cinematic experience.