Centipede Cinema by Colin Fournier,
Marysia Lewandowska and NEON


The only way to watch a film at this unconventional cinema in Guimarães, Portugal, is by manoeuvring your upper body into one of 16 downward-pointing nozzles.

Centipede Cinema by Colin Fournier, Marysia Lewandowska and NEON

The project was conceived by Bartlett School of Architecture professor Colin Fournier, who teamed up with Polish artist Marysia Lewandowska and London studio NEON to build it.

Centipede Cinema by Colin Fournier, Marysia Lewandowska and NEON

Open this week, the structure is named the Centipede Cinema because the protruding lower bodies of viewers give it a similar form to one of the many-legged creepy crawlies.

Centipede Cinema by Colin Fournier, Marysia Lewandowska and NEON

Cork covers the exterior and interior walls. "We wanted to show that cork can be used for architectural purposes, explained Fournier. "We used cork for the outer skin and a special dark cork to create the ‘black out’ effect needed for the cinema."

Centipede Cinema by Colin Fournier, Marysia Lewandowska and NEON

Viewers that have ducked inside the cinema can rest their arms on the base of the structure while enjoying a one-hour film made of of three-minute-long trailers.

Centipede Cinema by Colin Fournier, Marysia Lewandowska and NEON

The project was constructed to coincide with the city's designation as the 2012 European Capital of Culture and was inspired by a controversial local cinema club that started up during the authoritarian political regime of Estado Novo in the 1950s. "The CineClube is one of the few groups that were able to offer a radical political critique of society and they survive to this day as a left-wing cultural club, said Fournier. "We wanted to create something that celebrated such an important contribution."

Other cinemas on Dezeen include one beneath a motorway flyover and one on a narrowboat.

See more cinemas on Dezeen »

Here's a some more information from the Bartlett School of Architecture:

‘Centipede’ cinema opens in European Capital of Culture

A new free-standing ‘centipede’ cinema designed by an academic at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UK – will open this week in Guimarães, Portugal as part of celebrations for the 2012 European Capital of Culture.

The centipede cinema conceived by Professor Colin Fournier in collaboration with artist Marysia Lewandowska, was commissioned by the 2012 European Capital of Culture as a ‘public intervention’ for the Portuguese city. The design team led by Professor Fournier included two former graduates from Diploma Unit 18 at the Bartlett School of Architecture, George King and Mark Nixon, founding partners of a London based design firm called "Neon".

The cinema invites film-viewers to enter its canvas and cork structure via one of 16 nozzles so that their upper bodies are part of the cinematic experience whilst their legs are rooted in the outside world.

The alien-like structure creates a stark contrast with the historical streets of Guimarães, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. This contrast is echoed in the playful juxtaposition of reality and the world of fiction.

The authors were inspired by the Guimarães CineClube (CCG) when conceiving the cinema project. The CCG was founded in 1953 during the authoritarian Portuguese regime Estado Novo, led by António de Oliveira Salazar, which started in 1933.

Professor Fournier explained: “The CineClube brought international films to the city, some of them popular films broadly available from commercial distributors, but also many classic “cinéma d’auteur” art films by directors such as Jean-Luc Godard or Fellini, that often openly conflicted with the right-wing ideology of Salazar’s regime.

The cinema is also influenced by the local environment and the area’s traditional industries. The cinema is made from a steel frame and covered in local cork to promote the diversity of the material. Portugal is the world’s premier producer of cork, but with the increasing use of synthetic cork in wine bottling, the industry is looking at ways to diversify.

Inside, viewers will be treated to an hour-long film made up of 20 3-minute trailers selected by local workers. The structure will be revealed on the streets of Guimarães on Saturday 20 October.

  • Archi

    Surely someone could steal your wallet before you could run after them?

  • It's a very groovy looking thing but surely it would be better if one could sit down? Doesn't really encourage lingering does it?

  • Dave Gronlie

    It is an interesting idea. This being said, I see issues with accessibility. What if you cannot stoop to enter one of these nozzles? Or you are too short? And what if you are confined to a chair?

    I’m also curious as to how the amount of light from these access points would affect viewing. I would imagine it would be distracting.

    • Very interesting observation about the light bouncing from the floor… it could function with a black one?

      • Dave Gronlie

        Making the floor black might indeed help some. I see this as being a problem with this facility being outside and in use during the daylight hours. The creator may have to expand the dark area well beyond the dais on which the cinema is located to provide enough of a light baffle… maybe only a few meters beyond the edge of the structure would suffice?

  • ostanciu

    Oh come on! Its simply fun and funny. It’s an object that stirs curiosity and social interaction. Its not supposed to have all safety and accessibility solved. I doubt people are crazy enough to watch a whole film there – its more the curiosity to see what it is inside and who is there inside. It’s a playground; don’t take it so seriously!

  • Very sexy.