by Zohra KhanNov 06, 2020
Shanghai-based design and architecture studio X+Living has created a film and nature inspired interior for FAB Cinema located in Taiyuan IF Center, Xi’an, China. Replete with a sprawling bookstore, a space-age reading hall, a warm café, a dusky movie hall and a varicoloured children’s area, the space almost looks like a visual effect, with mirrored floors and ceilings coupled with sleek linear lighting. At a time when we are still debating whether or not to visit movie theatres, X+Living, in collaboration with Zhongshuge bookstore and FAB Cinema, succeeds in creating a hyper inviting and surreal setting that is appealing to film aficionados, lovers of the written expression and an audience beyond.
The film industry took one of the worst hits during the pandemic, with theatres across the world shutting down. With Taiyuan FAB Cinema, the collaborators seek to revive these spaces, starting with this cross-brand expanse. Besides the movie hall, a plethora of bookshelves clad almost every inch of the vertical surfaces, with recessed lighting augmenting their outlines and placement that reflect off the horizontal ones.
These append an intricate textural and fantastical graphic quality that complements the warmth of the wood lined interiors, giving it Christopher Nolan’s Inception like cityscape visual, and in the process, becoming succinctly Instagram worthy. (I do wonder how each and every bookshelf and crevice will be maintained and cleaned though.)
“Designing a cross-brand space is not simply about mixing features of two brands together,” says Li Xiang, chief designer, X+Living. “We integrated cultural aspects of both brands together in an organic manner, using humane sentiments of the bookstore to elevate brand value of the entertainment space; at the same time maximising both spaces’ social features to bring to customers a different experience,” she adds.
The fifth floor hosts the cinema’s ticket office, as well as the Zhongshuge reading hall. The bookshelf wall has a precise outline that creates a ceremonial reception lobby, diluting the commerciality of the space. Visitors can wait in this unique room with white walls, and metal covered timber casing its surfaces. The design team relays that only level A fireproof wood was used in the project, “which not only elevates the aesthetics, but also guarantee safety.” A 90-seater hall wraps its walls in dusky wood, with the middle row rendered in bumblebee yellow, a bright contrast to the rest of the black seats and flooring.
Wooden arches with lights lining their underbelly are arranged in a quick sequence in the 10-meter lofty corridor that leads to the cinema from the bookstore, forming a ‘cinematic’ (if I may say so) retreat. The staircases on either side separate the cinephiles from the bookworms, making sure their circulatory paths do not intersect inside.
The bookshelves adopt a “step-down design and creates an abstract mountain shape” in the lecture hall, which enables them to perform as seats, stairs and displays. This space is to be used to host events and activities related to books and film culture. The designated children’s area employs elements related to film media, such as projectors, reels and recorders to create a colourful, larger-than-life setting that sits in contrast to the rest of the 4600 sqm space.
The audience can proceed for a hot drink in the Zhongshuge café after the movie, its interior design inspired by the mountains that surround the local landscape. “We used white triangular, geometric shapes to create mountains and formed a cave filled with knowledge. The design activates a new business model for cinemas, at the same time provides an upgrade of the ‘retail + entertainment’ model for the renaissance of physical bookstores,” Xiang remarks.
Name: Taiyuan FAB Cinema
Location: Taiyuan, China
Area: 4600 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Chief designer: Li Xiang
Project director: Ren Lijiao, Wu Feng
Designer: Qian Huilan, Zhao Dandan, Chen Lufang, Li Jiaxin, Yang Qiaoliu, Fan Haifeng, Jiang Xueping, Peng Xiang, Che Rui