For updated photo, Spring 2012, visit >
[Above: Existing frontage of the 106 year old building will be restored to its former glory, bike racks not withstanding...]
THE ROLLING STONES AND U2 ARE NOW making way for a stylish, boutique cinema in Barnes, SW13. With a choice of two screens (75 and 125 people respectively), brasserie-style restaurant, bar, ice cream parlour and members bar, this project will really help to revitalise the area. Interior walls are to be a visual showcase documenting the history of the building from early cinema (bioscope), theatre and dance hall, to modern recording studio and back again. The tradition of screening films here dates back over a hundred years and restoring the building to its former glory will buck the trend of tearing down old theatres and throwing up automated, soulless multiplexes in their place.
I love film, I really do, but with the growth of 'home cinema' and large plasma TVs, why leave the comfort of your own home when Sky or Virgin will beam in movies to you almost as soon as they've been on general release? The why is because it can be an exciting, stylish, sociable and eagerly anticipated experience – and the team behind the Olympic Cinema intends to provide us with just that.
The cinema is primarily targeted at local residents of all ages, who will have the joy of being able to walk or bicycle to watch the latest blockbuster or independent release instead of treking into Hammersmith or Richmond. There is to be a big emphasis on comfort (can't wait) with large, plush seating, plenty of leg room and state-of-the-art sound and projection technology – creating a venue where you will be able to relax and "...put your feet up" – enabling you to thoroughly immerse yourself in a film while relaxing with your favourite tipple.
The planning application is already well through the system and is on Richmond Council's 'priority' list. The council is behind with processing cases due to illness and unforeseen circumstances, so it may be a few months yet. However, once approved, it will be full steam ahead. Lisa Burdge estimates it will then take six months to refurbish the building and they now anticipate opening the doors in Spring 2012.
IN GOOD COMPANY
They will be in very good company - other well known boutique-style cinemas are the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill and the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead which has leather seats, velvet pillows and foot rests. The Electric even has an usher who will serve you mini-meals from the brasserie next door. How amazing is that? Elegant and stylish, they are both definitely 'an experience' and a notable evening out. There is also The Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch, which is linked to the über cool Shoreditch House, and where seats come equipped with blankets and cushions for when the aircon gets too much. We are very lucky to think that a similar experience and venue, fingers crossed, will soon be here in SW13.
The Olympic Cinema already has a clear and informative website at olympiccinema.co.uk if you want to keep tabs on they're progress. I'll be first in line for a ticket or two...
With many thanks to Lisa Burdge at The Olympic Cinema, LINKS are at the end of this post.
The Olympic Cinema is at 117 Church Road, Barnes, SW13.
For contact details and more detailed information please visit the Olympic Cinema website >
Learn more about the history of the building >
The architects who have drawn up the plans are Henley Halebrown Rossison, working with a design-led structural engineering consultancy Rodrigues Associates. They "...believe the creation of public buildings and public open spaces presents a client with a remarkable opportunity to communicate ideas about their community, about society, democracy and the arts. In this way a new theatre, library or town hall has the potential to redefine a place and to reinvigorate a community." HHR
Read Time Out's review of The Aubin >