Syndicate Architects has opened the Garage Screen, a summer cinema located in Gorky Park in Moscow opposite the Museum of Modern Art Garage, designed by Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2015. The design reinterprets the process of watching a movie and offers a new way of experiencing cinema.
The key concept of the pavilion is an ‘open cinema’. The openness means that instead of trying to create a controlled and enclosed environment, devoid of connection with context and distraction from the outside we embrace and modulate the ambient factors. Doing so allows us to avoid creating a space of exclusion in a lively public square. Not only do ambient factors participate in the functioning of the cinema, but the cinema can also spill out onto the square. It adds a performative aspect to the pavilion, ‘to see and to be seen’. Retractable curtains around the cinema hall allow to achieve the complete openness and let visitors of the cinema who watch a movie to also see people on the square while the latter simultaneously observe the former.
The challenges presented by ambient conditions are addressed by choosing proper materials, systems, and geometry. Curtains, when raised, allow for complete transparency, yet acoustic properties of velvet greatly improve acoustic quality inside the cinema and when curtains are down a cozy, quiet and secluded space is created, where movie-goers can relax and immerse themselves in the plot.
One of the features that allow us to fully enjoy the experience of open cinema in the center of Moscow is the transformable roof, which protects from bad weather and once opened allows viewers to enjoy a movie under the stars. Ultimately the entire geometry of pavilion was computationally optimized in order to create a zone of permanent shade within in the cinema hall.
The design was also inspired by the physical processes at the core of the cinema. The shape of the pavilion resembles the diverging beam of light from the projector, and the shell reminds of the processes of reflection and refraction of light on the cinema film. Apart from that, entry titles of Star Wars which go into infinite perspective and the neon palette of Blade Runner set the mood for our design.
The pavilion is a temporary structure and also has a goal of attracting and entertaining people. To serve as a radiant landmark it was chosen to use dichroic PVC which changes its color depending on the view angle, time of the day and weather. That means that each visitor sees their own cinema, the image of the pavilion is dynamic. During the day sun caustics from dichroic PVC change surrounding completely with green to yellow reflections. At night the neon sign serves as a lighting source for the whole square and has a purple reflection in OMA museum.
Since the pavilion is a temporary structure that is built on the current for a single summer season, environmental responsibility was paramount for the project. The structure can be completely disassembled and either reassembled again elsewhere or materials can be re-used either for new construction (e.g. metal parts) or to produce merchandise for the museum (e.g. PVC and fabric).