Meteor Showers at the Movies

Interior design at Chinese theater honors commitments to cinema.
17 April, 2017
Some Hollywood movies take longer to make than others, including The Simpsons Movie.
That went through nine years' worth of various negotiations and almost 160 rewrites, plus the animation process. In the end, if you went to see the popular film in the theater, the movie ran for just 87 minutes.

Passionate script writers, actors, artists and filmmakers – often exploring far more serious topics – may spend years creating an experience that moviegoers consume in a fraction of the time. That's what inspired the Meteor Cinema in a Guangzhou shopping mall in China. Designed by One+ Partnership, a Hong Kong architectural firm launched by Ajax Law and Virginia Lung, the two-story theater is meant to honor cinema professionals who devote so much of their lives to the fleeting experience of the public.
"The process of filmmaking reminds of a meteor," explain the architects, who built scenes from the midst of a meteor shower in various styles and then installed them throughout the entire cinema.

In the lobby, long aluminium rectangles and cubes hang from the ceiling, capturing the sense of a meteor shower streaking through the sky – some pointing in two directions to better mimic the sense of motion. The computer-assisted design helped to create models that made the meteor installations vividly alive, despite the fact that the theater, of course, never moves.
The designers then chose earth tones to support an elegance that's consistent with the screening space, lobby furniture and décor. The aluminium plates are coated with wood patterns in two different shades of brown to create a wood-like effect. While the aluminium is a lighter weight than wood, it also met the stricter fire safety code for the theater. The theme is continued in the flat rectangular stones in the corridor, which look as if they are growing from the ground and interact with meteors in a dynamic way.

Other decorations in the cinema, such as the signage and wall tiles, also are linear and oblique to match with the ceiling feature. The stainless steel numbers used to identify theaters in the multiplex, for example, appear to fly towards the audience members, echoing the motion of the ceiling feature.
Once inside, moviegoers find a meteor shower within each theater and their wall installations. Visitors also may lie on the floor to contemplate the meteor art installations as they're waiting for their films.

Recently, Lung and Law announced they've won a Good Design Award from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion for their work on the Meteor Shower theater. It's not their first award for cutting-edge cinema design, though. They also won an Inside Festival 2015 award for their work at a theater in Wuhan, China, where they placed angular blocks of different sizes that delivered the effect of an explosion within the space.
In the lobby, where visitors approach concession counters much as they might anywhere else, the blocks create the experience of a disaster scene from a science fiction movie, Lung says.

"We have all of these rectangular boxes at different scales for different spaces," Lung explained. "We wanted to create a big explosion. You can see all of these columns and pillars, they seem like they are falling apart." The project, completed entirely in black and white to keep focus on the forms, also foreshadowed the Meteor Shower theater with its emphasis in metal and soundproofing foams.
Banner image: Kontakt Mag