The Majestic Theatre, Penang

For client: 1919 GLOBAL SDN BHD Floor area: 3220.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: 年度娱乐场所

About the Project

Inspired by the existing heritage building as well as the region’s rich Asian cinematic culture, we created a series of sensorial experiences, which balance the Majestic’s unique past, and its contemporary role as a lifestyle destination.

The vast cinema hall has been transformed into an event space for an array of lifestyle events, ranging from movie screenings to wedding celebrations.

In our search to find a common thread running through the multiple genres and decades of movie making, we came across the “clapboard”, something common on all movie sets whatever the genre. We were very attracted to the graphical quality of the stripes and extrapolated it to the spatial dimension, making something 2D become 3D.

Taking inspiration from the iconic clapboard used in movie-making the world over, we have applied the dynamic black-and-white pattern of the clapboard into the reception and main cinema area.

A typical theatrical experience often involves constant bombardment of sensationalized images, which we sought to recreate with ceiling-to-floor murals all over the Majestic’s Circle Seats, using graphics from 1970s-1980s cinematic posters, to capture the past and display them writ large in a modern space.

What’s unique about it

Overall, we sought to inject newness into a heritage space. For example, by applying the black-and-white clapboard pattern spatially into the grand hall, it allowed us to pay homage to the heritage of the cinema whilst contemporizing the space.

The result is hypnotic, literally. The pattern’s visual dynamism is very arresting, and clearly signals the injection of newness into this heritage space.

Also, the project’s ethos is to find the poetic tension between what exists and the new additions. We maintained the brickwork found in most of the hall and juxtaposed it with the new tiling pattern found throughout the hall. The new addition in the reception are formed by black and white timber panels which create the clapboard pattern.

Some challenges faced and overcome:
a) The timber panels of the clapboard patterning in the reception was rather complex, it had to maintain a level of visual complexity but at the same time, it had to be simple enough for construction efficiency and costing. We started out with a much more idiosyncratic pattern which comprised many unique pieces, but over time and discussion with the contractor, this was made more efficient.

b) The local authorities were quite particular about preserving the heritage quality of the architecture, so there were a number of issues with which we had to deal with in a sensitive way.

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