Dezeen Magazine

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.