Busan Cinema Centre
by Coop Himmelb(l)au


Architects Coop Himmelb(l)au have completed a film and theatre centre in South Korea with a steel and glass cantilever that's wider than the wings of an Airbus A380 (+ slideshow).

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

As the home to the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), the Busan Cinema Centre sandwiches a 4000-seat outdoor cinema between the two halves of the building, while the column-free roof measures 85 metres from end to end.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

"Once we build architecture like aircraft wings we will no longer need columns," Coop Himmelb(l)au Principal Wolf D.Prix told Dezeen. "The cantilevered part of the roof with its 85 meters is twice as long as one wing of the Airbus 380."

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

LED lights glow from behind the canopy's glass underside, creating a rainbow of colours over the heads of visitors and guests arriving across the public square at the front of the complex.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

A funnel-like structure punctures the roof on one side, while a ramp spirals around it to create a red carpet route into the reception hall in the south-eastern block.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

A triangulated metal lattice clads this column, concealing a cafe at ground floor level and a staircase leading to a bar and restaurant above.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

An indoor cinema and theatre are contained within the north-western block and are stacked on top of one another.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

"The basic concept of this project was the discourse about the overlapping of open and closed spaces and of public and private areas," said Prix. "While the movie theatres are located in a mountain-like building, the centre's public space is shared between an outdoor cinema and a huge reception area."

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Prix recently caused a stir by launching an attack on this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, claiming it's "no longer about lively discussion and criticism of topics in contemporary architecture."

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

See all our stories about Coop Himmelb(l)au » 

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Photography is by Duccio Malagamba.

Here's a project description from Coop Himmelb(l)au:

Busan Cinema Center / Busan International Film Festival, Busan, South Korea (2005 - 2012)

The Busan Cinema Center – A multifunctional urban plaza

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s design for the Busan Cinema Center and home of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) provides a new intersection between public space, cultural programs, entertainment, technology and architecture creating a vibrant landmark within the urban landscape.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

LED saturated outdoor roof elements acting as a virtual sky connect building-objects and plaza-zones into a continuous, multifunctional public urban space.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Media, technology, entertainment and leisure are merged in an open-architecture of changeable and tailored event experiences. The result is a responsive and changing space of flows acting as an urban catalyst for cultural exchange and transformation.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Project Description

The concept envisions an urban plaza of overlapping zones including an Urban Valley, a Red Carpet Zone, a Walk of Fame and the BIFF Canal Park. The urban plaza is formed by building and plaza elements sheltered by two large roofs that are enabled with computer programmed LED outdoor ceiling surfaces. The larger of the roofs includes a column-free cantilever of 85 meters over a multifunctional Memorial Court event plaza. The urban zones of the complex are formed by individual and recognizable building objects placed below the outdoor roofs. The building objects contain theater, indoor and outdoor cinemas, convention halls, office spaces, creative studios and dining areas in a mixture of sheltered and linked indoor and outdoor public spaces. The design of these spaces supports flexible, hybrid functionality that can be used both during the annual festival period and day-to-day use without interruption.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

The urban zones defined by functional surfaces in plan are further articulated in a sectional dialogue between stone-clad “ground” forms of the Cinema Mountain and BIFF Hill, and the metal and LED clad “sky” elements of the roofs. The materiality of the building objects differentiates the spaces and articulates the architectural concept. Through their shape, placement and materiality, the various parts create a dynamic and informal tension between the ground and the roof.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Architecture and Cinema – the Main Roof

The dynamic LED lighting surface covering the undulating ceilings of the outdoor roof canopies gives the Busan Cinema Center its symbolic and representative iconographic feature. Artistic lighting programs tailored to events of the BIFF or the Municipality of Busan can be created by visual artists and displayed across the ceiling in full motion graphics, creating a lively urban situation at night, but also visible during the day.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Imbedded in the architecture the lighting surfaces serve as a communication platform for the content of the Busan Cinema Center. Light as art, which is at the very nature of cinema, creates a unique and memorable atmosphere for the public urban plaza and architecture of the BCC.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Double Cone, Café and Roof Restaurant

The Double Cone is the symbolic landmark entrance element to the Busan Cinema Center and serves as the connective element between the Cinema Mountain and the BIFF Hill. Designed as a steel web drum on top of a series of radial concrete fin walls, the Double Cone also is the only vertical structural support for the large cantilevered roof acting as a large, singular column.

During day-to-day use, the ground level of the Double Cone contains a public café with outdoor seating, and the upper level links to a world-class restaurant, bar and lounge within the roof volume with views overlooking the APEC park and river beyond.

During the festival the Double Cone marks the Red Carpet Zone and VIP entrance to the “Busan Cinema Center”, and can be used as a pre-event space for VIP’s on the ground level, or as a pre-staging area for transfer to the Red Carpet procession to the outdoor cinema stage, or to the upper levels of the Cinema Mountain or BIFF Hill foyers via the red carpet spiralling ramp and bridges suspended from the roof.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Ground floor plan - click above for larger image 

Cinema Mountain

The Cinema Mountain is a multifunctional building containing both a 1,000 seat multifunctional theater with fly-tower and full backstage support, and a three-screen multiplex comprised of a 400-seat and two 200-seat Cinemas. Separate entrances and foyers are provided for theater and cinema respectively, however the foyers and circulation are designed so that they can be combined depending on operational preferences.

Complete structural separation between the theater and the cinemas ensures optimal noise isolation for the theater space, which is designed as a first-class, flexible hall with seating on two levels and optimal sight lines and adjustable acoustics. A flexible proscenium type stage with side stages and fly-tower accommodates movable acoustical towers used to close down the stage volume for concerts and operatic theater, but can be easily moved for theater, musicals and other staged events. The stage includes a fore-stage lift that can provide additional seating, an orchestra pit or stage extension as preferred. Horizontally tracking curtains along the walls of the audience chamber can be hidden or deployed to adjust the acoustics of the space.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Second floor plan - click above for larger image 

Urban Valley / Outdoor Cinema

The Urban Valley combines a flexible flat ground surface and large stepped tribunes of the BIFF Hill as seating for a 4,000 seat Outdoor Cinema. The Valley is sheltered by a large sculpted outdoor roof with an LED ceiling surface and is oriented towards a flexible stage and screen area on the outside of the Eastern façade of the Cinema Mountain. Accommodation for purpose built projection screens, stages, loudspeaker and lighting arrays are provided allowing for exterior performances to share the interior theater’s backstage facilities.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Third floor plan - click above for larger image 


The BIFF Hill is a ground surface formation creating the tribune seating space of the outdoor cinema and accommodating the concourse, the convention hall, the BIFF-center, the BIFF-offices and the visual media center. Given the flexible organization of the ground plan, it can be easily adapted to the different requirements during festival and day-to-day usage.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Fifth floor plan - click above for larger image 

Red Carpet Zone

During the BIFF festival, or for other special events, the Red Carpet Zone is created by a special drop-off and media-event processional entrance at the Double Cone entrance element. A red carpet can be extended from the Double Cone event space and photo position to the south through the park and along a pier. VIP’s can enter from limousines along the street edge, or arrive by boat from the pier. Various options are provided for the red carpet circulation from the Double Cone to the different event and performance spaces depending on the scenario preferred, including a vibrant spiralling ramp from the staging level of the event space to the VIP restaurant lounge of the upper roof or to the BIFF Hill and Cinema Mountain on upper levels of the foyers. During non-event periods the Red Carpet Zone acts as the symbolic entryway into the Busan Cinema Center complex.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Seventh floor plan - click above for larger image

Memorial Court & Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame contains the Memorial Court as a public plaza. Our proposal is to imbed sources in the ground surface projecting holographic images of the stars, directors, producers and the like who have been made a part of the Walk of Fame. Their avatars inhabit the memorial court as permanent residents; however their programs can be changed to show variable aspects of information over time or in relation to specific BIFF- events.

During non-event times the Memorial Court is used as a grand entryway to the Cinema Mountain and contains an outdoor dining area of the Double Cone Café overlooking the park and water beyond.

Due to the column-free sheltered roof above, the public plaza of the Memorial Court is a multi-functional event space that can be utilized for BIFF- or Busan City- events without interrupting the day-to-day activities of the Busan Cinema Center, or simultaneously with other events in the additional spaces.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Long section 1 - click above for larger image

BIFF Canal Park

The BIFF Canal Park is proposed as an extension of the open network of public programs into the planned riverside park, and as a linking element between the river and the cinema complex. A new pedestrian footbridge is proposed to connect the Busan Cinema Center site with the park across the Boulevard to the South connecting the Double Cone with the APEC Park. An additional outdoor event ‘bowl’ is proposed surrounded by canals that can provide public and private boat access to the project site. Space for a future extension of the Busan Cinema Center project is proposed as an island among the canals, further integrating the cultural functions of the Busan Cinema Center project with the surrounding public space and landscape environment.

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Long section 2 - click above for larger image

Competition (1st Prize): 11/2005

Start of Planning: 01/2007
Start of Construction: 10/2008
Opening: 29/09/2011
Completion: 2012

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Cross section 1 - click above for larger image

Site Area: 32,100 m²
Net Floor Area (interior spaces): 51,067 m²
Gross Floor Area (interior spaces): 57,981 m²
Built-up Area: 10,005 m² (without roofs)
Cubage: 349,708 m³

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au

Cross section 2 - click above for larger image

Building Costs: about EUR 100 Mio
Costs per m²: 1.725 EUR/m² (excl. exterior spaces)

Busan Cinema Centre by Coop Himmelb(l)au


Cross section 3 - click above for larger image

  • John H

    Yikes… welcome back to the 1990s!

    • pat

      Why? Is it bad? I kinda like it, no bulls**t about science and objectivity of coolness, why not?

  • BMW Welt Munich? ^^

  • Stun

    Is it only me that can’t see any sense of human scale or resonance in the shape of the volume?

    • mmmhhh

      I don’t understand the “sense of human scale” argument when it comes to such big buildings. Is one looking for a sense of human scale when looking at CCTV?

      21st century, global world, loads of thousand square meters. Your references about what makes good architecture are from another century; deal with what’s produced now.

      That’s a very good design. Intriguing object + wide open space + generous way of dealing with the program. Congratulations Coop Himmelb(l)au.

      • rob

        So the references about what makes good architecture change every century? I wasn’t aware that human scale is not among them anymore. What’s architecture about if human scale has become completely irrelevant? For whom are we building? Dinosaurs maybe?

        • paul

          Man, the stairs are right, its not about functionality, it’s about giving a public space which can be an icon. Now the city works with icons, that’s it.

          That’s why I think this Coop building is excellent. Anyway better than Zaha (a maya smooth volume).

  • Nathan

    So they’ve basically copied and pasted the roof from BMW Welt in Munich.

  • This is awesome.

  • csparrott

    Yeah, shapes and curves, wicked, etc.

  • Nick

    One of those building that I’d have to walk through to be able to comment. Looks interesting though. Exceptional engineering work.

    • It is a fine building. I have been there and it is even better in real life! It also responds to the distant landscape and context as well as the various program uses. Great work!

  • Otis

    The programs for the interior and exterior aren't as synchronous as they'd have you believe…

  • Colonel Pancake

    I have no idea what I'm looking at.

  • Gerhard

    Welcome back, post modern time. Nothing but formal.

    • paul

      That’s why it’s interesting, no f**king process, no ideology.

      • Just a really complex shape, because its buildable?

        Cad: it is a hell of a drug.

    • mmmhhh

      “Nothing but formal.” Really? With such an amazing work on the quality of the public space? Metropolitan shelter at its best.

    • Welcome back Postmodernism? It never left!

  • pat

    I think they “make the difference”. I love how they develop a project using different mediums (3d, computational design, working models and sketches).

    I think they reach a different level. In the end, I believe they show the possiblity of using parametric design in a different way.

  • Dima

    Such a huge waste of space for the sake of the shape only scares me a lot! It’s a big disappointment to realize that this giant roof is just an empty shape.

  • Abeer hassan

    That’s a very good design. Wide open space + generous way of dealing with the program + very good structure system.

  • marwa altamimi

    Having such a cantaliver applied is very innovative. The composition of open spaces and closed spaces gives us variety to express different spaces in one unit.

  • marwa altamimi

    Such structure is amazing and says that nothing is impossible in the architecture world when it is related very well to structural engineering and the composite of open and closed spaces was done properly to experience them in one place.

  • blau

    Looking more closely at it, the photos can’t seem to do the materiality any justice; I’m normally pretty jaded with the use of LED screens but how incredible must it be to walk under this thing and see the impervious sculptural form give way to this carpet of light?

    Coop Himmelblau know exactly what they’re doing! It feels like the reason many here diss them is because they’re sick of so many of their pale imitators! These guys are still blazing paths and Busan is the winner here! The magic of architecture and the magic of cinema are on show here. I imagine they nailed the brief.

  • marwa altamimi

    Can anyone explain for me the cost, and how much did this project cost? Please.