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Published by: Gregor Maria Schubert, Johanna Süß and Kenneth Hujer

Talking about the future of cinema also means talking about its spaces, its architecture and its many details beyond the big screen. For far too long, public debate has been limited to considering cinema as a wonderful communal experience. Yet there are many good arguments emphasising the fascination of cinema. It stands undisputed that films as the highest form of creative expression belong in the cinema. However, the cinema itself as an aesthetic space of experience has fallen into disrepute in recent decades. The golden age of cinema architecture can be dated back to the 1920s to 30s. Although the cinema architecture of the post-war period was able to build on this glorious era, the advent of multiplex cinemas in the 1980s meant the end of an engaging spatial experience. Sophisticated architecture was mostly replaced by dull functional buildings. The outstanding existing buildings – the legacy of early cinema architecture – did not seem worth preserving and soon found themselves being demolished.

Cultural buildings are the soul of a city. They convey the self-perception and radiate the pride of a society. Cultural buildings make it possible for architecture, politics and the public to function in unison, bundling collective efforts. A city becomes a city only through art and culture. One only needs to try and imagine Paris without the Palais du Louvre, the Centre Pompidou or the Eiffel Tower. Political decisions regarding cultural infrastructure are principal tasks for cities since they affect the living environment of all its citizens. In many places, architectural culture shapes the cityscape and cultural environment. However, designing the local cultural infrastructure is not the exclusive responsibility of political decision making. Social structures, an independent art scene and the cultural industry in general make important contributions to this endeavour. Which demands will architectural buildings such as cinemas have to meet in the future? How can they be made accessible to the whole of society?

We were interested in cinemas designed and opened in the year 2000 and beyond, both in Europe and other continents. We found nine examples of extraordinary façades and interior design. Additionally, we list three architectural projects to be built in the near future. Our list makes no claim of being all-encompassing. If that had been our goal, we would have also mentioned the well-known, impressive Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam. Rather, what follows is a compilation of personal preferences based on the idea of a good mixtape. You will see that our brochure makes do with very little text. Alongside technical data and brief descriptions, pictures take centre stage. The title “Theory of Cinema” may therefore come as a surprise. In addition to the hidden allusion to cinema-goer Siegfried Kracauer, the ancient Greek term “theoria” links knowledge with contemplation and observation. We would like to encourage this knowledge of how the future of cinema could look like – with visual material that demands to be contemplated and observed.