by Jincy IypeJan 04, 2021
Paying homage to Saigon’s architectural landmarks and public haunts in bright retro tones with a geometric, postmodernist approach, Vietnamese architecture and design practice, Module K, has completed its first theatre design project for cinema chain, Beta Media. The project is the organisation’s first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City, joining a list of 20 Beta Group-operated theatres that had opened earlier in the northern part of Vietnam. Located on the ground level of a shopping mall, the new 2000 sqm multiplex can accommodate 1000 moviegoers, with an underlying design aesthetic that aims to entice the city’s youth towards its halls to socialise, eat, drink, and catch the latest blockbuster releases on the silver screen.
After winning a competition against 30 other competing firms, Module K arrived at the scene, armed with the goal to develop a memorable space that would generate buzz and be immediately ‘instagrammable.’ In an official statement, Jade Nguyen, Director of Module K, explains the story behind Beta Cinema’s unique theme stating, “The client wanted to convey a message of pride in Saigon landmarks, but not with the usual Indochine style. And we wanted to move away from the typical cinema design - dark and moody - so we tried to create a funky and welcoming space.” She continues, “We captured the iconic features of Saigon and transformed them by stripping details, condensing the basic lines and turning them into geometric shapes. Then we applied a technique of solid colour treatment, as used in graphic design and cartoons, to unify these separate elements.”
This concept - realised in a manner reminiscent of the work of Ricardo Bofill or Luis Barragán - is evident from the entrance itself. An Indochine green wall with an arched void hosting pop-coloured seating is encountered near the entryway, flowing into a vast central hall, inspired by the French colonial style of Saigon’s Ben Thanh marketplace. Geometric elements finished in flamingo pink, Indochine green, and bright orange, are prominently featured throughout the design scheme. The focal point of this zone is a stepped seating area that resembles a curved amphitheatre, extending from the mezzanine level above in alternating shades of light and dark blue, influenced by the arched façade design of Saigon Municipal Opera House. It is flanked by a pair of cylindrical columns wrapped by elements that mimic spiral staircases, continuing the geometric design theme.
A similar premise is also repeated in the balustrades of stairways linking the ground and mezzanine levels - painting a picture that evokes Escher’s famous House of Stairs lithograph print. Above, a flock of bird-shaped lighting design elements are suspended from the ceiling, to frame the Beta Media logo on the mezzanine level in the background and recall pigeons seen flying over Paris Commune Square in Ho Chi Minh City. Circular and rectilinear seating occupy the mezzanine meeting area behind it, radiating an air of whimsy. By contrast, the floor below is paved with encaustic cement tiles featuring patterns from Oriental art. Epoxy flooring, steel frames, and furnishings by Soulroom and RPB Furniture complete the distinct interior design.
Extending along the ceiling from the top of the nearby ticketing counter is a curved canopy in dark shades of teal that pays tribute to the architecture of Saigon Central Post Office through arched openings that imitate vaulted colonnades. On the adjoining section of the mezzanine level, these arches form semicircular loggias for seating spaces overlooking the main concourse. Supplementary corridors running throughout the building link the cinema hall’s two floors.
On one side of the hall, a sequence of asymmetrical arches has been incorporated as a nod to the bright pink Gothic architecture of the Tan Dinh Church in Ho Chi Minh City. Meanwhile, the side lobby and its ancillary spaces feature rainbow-coloured arches with intimate enclosures that reflect the city’s alleyways and bustling streetscapes. The theatres within the multiplex contain deep turquoise seats with backlit lozenge-shaped wall reliefs in orange and lemon tones that add rhythm and contrast to the space.
As per Module K, the project was completed under-budget in a lightning-quick time frame of just 35 days. Minh Bui, CEO of Beta Group, reflects on the process in an official release, relaying: "Module K's strong design response and their passion made a big impact and matched our own." In fact, Module K is already working on a new Beta Cinema outlet on the tourist island of Phú quốc, after the resoundingly memorable results of their first movie theatre project - which promises to be every bit as iconic and engaging as the landmarks that influenced it.
Name: Beta Cinema
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Client: Beta Group
Area: 2000 sqm
Seating Capacity: 1000
Design Team: Nguyen Anh Huy, Jade Nguyen, Ngan Giang, Diep Binh Quyen, Phuong Dung, Phu Binh, Thuy Vi, Nguyen Hiep.