Glasgow Film Theatre, formerly the Cosmo Cinema, is Scotland’s first art house cinema which opened in 1939. Designed by prolific Scottish cinema architect James McKissack, both its exterior and interior convey the romance of the world of film. From the outset the architects were fascinated with the inherent richness and crafted appearance of the original building. A palette of materials was developed to reflect the original 1939 design, including brass, bronze mirror, sustainably sourced teak and terrazzo, re-introducing a familiar continuity of detail and craft.
The first phase alteration works, alongside a new reconfigured entrance box office and implementing efficient boiler plant and services infrastructure, introduced a new 60 seat digital auditorium - Cinema 3. The clients’ aspirations for the new cinema were to offer a comfortable, modern and high quality viewing experience with the largest possible screen to provide cinemascope capability.
Cinema 3 was proposed to replace the underused Café Cosmo space. To optimise the screening layout and to accommodate the requirement for 60 seats every inch of construction space became valuable. Some careful excavation and stripping-back works were required to provide complete sound separation from the existing two auditoriums. A new ‘box in box’ construction and tiered seating arrangement maximises the viewing experience. The architect’s approach and strategy to the new cinema’s internal treatment was one to combine the demanding acoustic requirements with a rich architectural expression.
Use of wood appears throughout Glasgow Film Theatre from structural elements, solid balustrade and railings, veneered paneling and detailed furniture pieces. Since opening in 1939, the interior has acquired heritage value for creative timber applications.
Drawing from the cinema’s heritage a palette of timber materials was inspired by the original 1939 design, resulting in the specification of sustainably sourced teak, stained timbers, profiled timber moldings, slats and intricate profile forms.
Using local wood manufacturing expertise allowed for workshop precision and controlled craftsmanship. An independent structure was innovatively formed and constructed through the use of a timber joist portal frame. The entire interior or ‘slatted hood’ offered a unique but distinctive aesthetic in contrast to the norm of plaster and fabric lined auditorium spaces.
The new ebony-coloured timber acoustic ‘hood’ with celebrated teak edge trims define the room, crafted in a manner that adds a subtle sense of decoration to the compact space while concealing all AV equipment, LED lighting and ventilation components and reducing visual distractions.
Bespoke leather ‘Charles’ seats manufactured by an auditorium seating specialist, were designed in collaboration with the GFT. Their teak backings enhance Cinema 3’s spatial qualities and make visual and material reference to the former grandeur of the 1939 interiors.
Photography: Dapple Photography