City Screen Size: Built in 1907 as the Central Library and Methodist Hall, this structure has been a part of Hackney life for over a century. In recent years, it was converted into a live music venue with space for 2700 people but it was not a success.
Fletcher Priest Architect’s brief was to transform the existing 4,150 sq m/ 44,700 sq ft venue into the Hackney Picturehouse with minimum intervention and maximum effect. The venue was to comprise four cinema screens varying in size from 56 to 293 seats, a café area which opens onto Mare Street and the Town Hall square, two bars, a live music venue and an art gallery.
This major investment in the heart of Hackney is a timely addition, against the backdrop of the riots in August 2011, and a vote of confidence in the borough. It provides space for a rich mix of arts related and community and newly created lettable offices will provide affordable spaces for local start-up companies.
The main objective for the design was to reuse and rethink as many of the spaces and materials as possible. Acoustic panels in the cinemas and bar areas have been refurbished throughout and elements of the old bars have been recovered and reused. Frosted glazed panels that were previously used as projection screens in front of the bar windows have been relocated to the art gallery space to act as a back-lit light box wall.
By using a fresh and simplified colour and material palette a new identity was created, while the idea of supergraphics has been carried through from the large scale PICTURE HOUSE letters playfully announcing the venue.