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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Film Theatre of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain by Mateo Arquitectura

October 5th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Mateo Arquitectura

Headquarters of the new Film Theatre of Catalonia in the Raval district of Barcelona, First prize, public competition 2004

The ruins mark the structure of the buildings. The Roman forum formalizes the plane of foundations and drains. In the old town, my building sets out to express itself as pure structure—no cladding, no finishes. The bare concrete beams-cum-walls that form the façades are very varied, proving themselves members of the family of the dilapidated neighbouring walls, where plaster crumbles to reveal their original central mass.


Exterior View (photo by Adrià Goula)

  • Architect: Josep Lluís Mateo – Mateo Arquitectura
  • Name of Project: Film Theatre of Catalonia
  • Location: Plaza Salvador Seguí, distrito del raval, Barcelona, Spain
  • Surface: 7.515 m2
  • Client: ICIC (Institut Català de les Indústries Culturals)
  • Photos: Adrià Goula

Interior View (photo by Adrià Goula)

  • Budget: 12.000.000 euros
  • Structural Engineering: BOMA, Agustí Obiol
  • Installations Engineering: Grupo JG
  • Budget Control: Tram
  • Fire Protection: Francesc Labastida
  • Constructor: Emcofa

Interior View (photo by Adrià Goula)

Filters are juxtaposed on the wall. This cinematographic metaphor is not just conceptual; it is above all physical, sensible. In the old town, with very close relations between buildings, interaction must be mediated, filtered. And this is implemented by a variety of devices, with a vague cinematographic reference.

Interior View (photo by Adrià Goula)

About the space… The space is organized around two movements:

a) The descent into the darkness of the cinemas, with the reflection of the spectators (in turn reflected, actors seen in a series of mirrors)

b) The ascent towards the light, towards the places of work.

Exterior View (photo by Adrià Goula)

Place and Project

The new film theatre building presents a façade on Plaça de Salvador Seguí, at an angle to Carrer de Sant Pau. Together with the existing constructions, it forms Carrer d’Espalter.

It is very close to the mythical Carrer de Robador, in an area which, despite the major clean-ups still going on and the change in population, is still a popular, built-up, oppressively Mediterranean/port neighbourhood.


Aerial View (photo by Adrià Goula)

Its relation with its setting operates on the following levels:

The project and Plaça de Salvador Seguí:

The plaza represents a clearing in the built-up district of El Raval which, thanks to this construction, attracts new users and hosts large-scale events. A porch on the ground floor can be opened or closed according to functional needs.

The film theatre is a continuation of the building line of the street, blending in with its setting.

Interior View (photo by Adrià Goula)

The project and its immediate surroundings: Carrer d’Espalter:

The volume of the cinemas is undergrounded, thereby redu­cing the scale and visual impact of the building. The street is widened a little, drawing the construction back from the buil­ding line. The new building reduces the ground floor section at the end walls, which also makes the street wider.

Exterior View (photo by Adrià Goula)


The Film Theatre was conceived as a form “under construc­tion”, as mass and volume without detail. The principal mate­rial used is therefore concrete—hard and strong. To accen­tuate this “unfinished” appearance, the beams extend to the exterior with their tensioning cables. The building is basically a beam-cum-wall that also frees up space without imposing a domestic presence.


The brief

The brief brings together in a single building functions that were previously housed separately: the library, the archive and the two cinemas, along with administrative and other functions, such as preparing publicity and information. There are also galleries and a cafeteria-bar. The ground floor houses the reception and foyer to the cinemas, the vertical communication shafts, the cafeteria-bar and the necessary complementary services (ticket desk, etc.)

On the first floor are the library and a permanent exhibition gallery, and the second and third floors house the offices of the ICIC (Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries). The second floor is an open-plan space that looks out over the plaza and the street, Carrer d’Espalter, with a terrace overlooking Carrer de Sant Josep Oriol. The third floor is partially lit by a courtyard that becomes a skylight in the roof of the second floor. In the basement, beneath the building’s projection, are the two floors of archives and storage, and the part of the basement below the plaza houses the two cinemas.

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Category: Theater

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