Cinema, Xi'an, China

Tuesday 6 Nov 2018

Architects: Sybarite UK Ltd

Sybarite celebrates the silver screen

Architecture and design practice Sybarite has created a luxurious, futuristic cinema brand for SKP - with its own strong and scalable design language that will complement the luxury retailer’s existing brand

Sybarite wanted to develop something unexpected and futuristic with the SKP Cinema brand using bold and distinctive branding as well as luxurious materials.

The first SKP Cinema opened this summer 2018 at SKP Xi'an, providing the retail store with a refined, seductive and immersive cultural space. Spanning two floors, which are linked with an iconic, brutalist, poured-concrete staircase, the space illustrates how Sybarite has created a design language that can be integrated between the floors, walls and ceilings to develop a sculpted, luxurious environment and a recognisable brand. 

Sybarite co-founder Torquil McIntosh said: "Tasked with creating a SKP-branded cinema, we developed a strong and scalable architectural language that can stand alone as well as within SKP retail stores."

Each of the seven screens at the SKP Cinema at SKP Xi'an - two double-height Halls, two VIP Halls, a Kids' Hall, a Theatre Hall and a Love Hall - has a signature geometrical stacking effect across the ceiling and walls similar to that of an armadillo shell.  This design highlight connects the ceiling and the walls, with the curvaceous offset also allowing a gap for air-conditioning and subtly diffused lighting.  Aside from the multi-hued Kids' Hall, each screen has its own single colour identity, such as red for the Love Hall, with seats matching the walls.  To accommodate celebrities attending screenings, the SKP Cinema also has incorporated a Green Room and VIP event space with a brushed brass cladded bar, made up of serrated semicircles with an oriental black marble top.

In most cinemas, the design of the communal areas is hardly a consideration, with customers arriving just before their film starts and leaving immediately after the screening. The considered, refined design of the communal parts at the SKP Cinema – which includes bars, a RENDEZ-VOUS café concession and point-of-sale areas – invites cinema-goers to stay for longer, meeting friends and family before and after watching a film.

While the marbles and metals in the communal areas are used across the SKP retail brand, Sybarite has varied the tone of those materials to ensure the SKP Cinema has a unique aesthetic. In addition, Sybarite has introduced fabrics and other materials that are not regularly used in SKP retail stores. Among the key features in those spaces are the bespoke pendant lights, created by Sybarite from natural fibreglass, which give off a beautifully diffuse glow. 

Unrelated to the rest of the design language is the iconic concrete staircase. Such an uncompromisingly modernist architectural detail contrasts with a deep-pile red carpet. With a glass handrail also clashing with the concrete, the staircase is a modern take on old-school Hollywood, transporting celebrities up to screenings on the floor above. 

“Sybarite has created a luxurious, contemporary and futuristic design for SKP Cinema, which can standalone and sit harmoniously within SKP stores, while also creating a destination for film premiers and events. The SKP Cinema brand is set to be a leading new entertainment brand across Asia.” said Michael Ferrera, Senior Director, Store Planning & Design, SKP.

Nick Myall

News editor