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Radical Entertainment

The components of Chinese characters take centre stage in One Plus Partnership’s design of a new cinema in Wuhan, China.



BY Rik Glauert

February 8th, 2017


Arguably the first step in film production is script writing and One Plus Partnership took this act as the main inspiration for its design of a sleek, industrial cinema in Wuhan.

The Hong Kong-based studio boiled down script writing to its essence by taking radicals – the elements that make up Chinese characters – as the central aesthetic theme. These shapes adorn everything from the building’s façade to the lobby and cinema screens.

“As the audience walk around the cinema, they would feel as if they are wandering in pages of the script,” say One Plus Partnership.

On the cinema’s perimeter, the radicals’ shapes are picked out in grey tubing on a black background. They overlap and merge to create a continuous abstract piece.

The walls of the lobby are clad in brushed iron with just a hint of rust. It gives the space a raw industrial feel.

Above, shapes of radicals are built in three dimensions by shaping and welding metal poles. Over-sized 3D radicals hang from the ceiling – seemingly at random – overlapping to become a surreal ceiling installation.

One of the design challenges to overcome was the low ceiling height in the lobby. Keen to install a feature above, the designers opted for frame-like radical blocks that still allow light through.

“The lobby remains spacious while having exuberant decorations, which enriches the cinema’s spatial quality,” say the designers.

The installation of custom-made shapes proved another challenge as the radicals were designed to face different directions and overlap in a specific way.

The designers created a detailed 3D model of how the final installation would look. It helped demonstrate the idea to the client and proved invaluable when working with contractors during the build.

The ticket office is formed using dark grey rectangular boxes that appear to sit atop one another – and adds to the industrial aesthetic.

Signage matches the shapes of the radicals in fluorescent lighting. The neon brings a much-needed cheery playfulness to the pervading greys.

Inside the actual cinema, the colour palette continues with seats picked out in different shades of grey.

On the walls, brown and grey acoustic panels are cut to different shapes so that the radicals extend out of the wall. The carpet is a geometric design, again in shades of grey, formed from radical shapes.