Dream Factory Mirrors

  • contemporary architecture

UNK Project designed the interiors of the public areas of Sochi's "Luxor IMAX" Movie Theater.


The movie theater is situated in the building of "MoreMall" that was only built last year. The three-story building with a total area of 168 thousand square meters appeared in the very heart of the resort city and is already recognized as the largest complex of this kind in Sochi. The eight-screen "Luxor IMAX" is situated on the top floor and is one of the main occupiers of the complex that is responsible for the entertainment part of "MoreMall". The total area of the movie theater is 28 hundred square meters, 8 hundred of which are the public areas. And it was them that the architects were to turn into a bright and memorable territory - the right to design the interiors of this project was to be won in a tender, and it was UNK Project that came out a winner.

The anchor architectural image for this project was hard to find. According to Julia Tryaskina, it was clear to the architects that, on the one hand, it must somehow be connected with the sea but, on the other hand, what they really wanted to do was to break away from the hackneyed metaphors. Water, glitter of sunlight, sea foam, and underwater creatures - all of this insistently suggested itself to be used in the design but the architects continued to filter the associations that came to their minds hoping to find something that would be truly original. The sea bottom theme seemed to be appropriate also because of the fact that one of the main decorations of the complex is a giant lantern executed in the shape of a glass wave billowing over the main volume of the building. So it made perfect sense that while, thanks to this lantern, the shopping areas were permeated with sunbeams, the artificial backlight of the movie theater is something like their reflection, as if the sunlight had passed through the blue.

The solution was also prompted by the very configuration of the movie theater premises: when the architects developed its layout with the required number of halls, restaurants, and ticket windows, it became obvious that on the plan the public territories have the shape of a few overlapping rectangles that gradually transform into a narrow corridor that ultimately leads to the movie halls. Something like a protuberance or the proverbial ever-fading ray. In order to convey the impression of the light that is fading away, the architects, of course, were to use the appropriate lighting system but even here they chose to do some "out-of-the-box" thinking.

Situated on either side of the broad corridor, the movie halls are connected to the entrance area by the interior "shell" executed in the shape of a wave-like flowing sphere that, bypassing the suspended communications and the different-height slabs of the intermediate floors, smoothly goes from one area to the other. This sphere is formed by the round polished mirrors that are placed along the entire perimeter of the ceiling and at different angles. The abundance of mirrors on the ceiling literally makes one head spin but, just as the architects planned, does not cause any direct associations - the enchanting space can be treated as "underwater", and as "cosmic", and even as "musical".

The mirrors, most of which are opaque ones, play the key part in the lighting scenario of the halls because it is these mirrors that diffuse the light from the spotlights creating an illusion of the flecks of light of various intensity. As Julia Tryaskina explains, all the mirrors here are different both in their diameter and in their type of surface: the large circles alternate with the small ones, and some of them are opaque. The latter take on most of the light from the spotlights and diffuse it; by gradually increasing the number of opaque surfaces as one progresses farther inside from the entrance, the architects achieve the effect of light that is smoothly fading away - just like it gets darker and darker in the deepening water, and which perfectly matches the atmosphere of a movie theater where bright light is always undesirable.

The abundance of the mirrors set at different angles to the ceiling helps conceal the spotlights themselves which adds extra intrigue to the space that the architects get. The same purpose is served by the ceiling design - it is also painted opaque which erases the visual boundaries of the room creating an illusion of being in some fantasy grotto.

The shell of the hundreds of round mirrors, for designing which UNK Project used 3-d modeling software, became the main element of the interior design, highlighting the individuality of this particular "Luxor IMAX". In such a project as a movie theater with its really rigid pre-calculated layout that the architects were to obey, the passage from the ticket windows through the restaurants and to the movie halls became in fact the only place where maneuvering was possible. And UNK Project used it to the fullest creating an interior that is as functional as unconventional.

Text by: Julia Tryaskina, Anna Martovitskaya

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