Fans rebuild Star and Shadow cinema in a warehouse

Words:
Jan-Carlos Kucharek

MawsonKerr helps recreate evicted cinema with volunteers, donations and recycling

The new event space inside the old carpet store caters for up to 200 people.
The new event space inside the old carpet store caters for up to 200 people.

This project exemplifies the power of concerted community action. When volunteer organisation Star and Shadow was having to vacate its makeshift cinema venue, demolished as part of the wider regeneration of the Ouseburn area of the city, it offered to buy a dilapidated former carpet warehouse nearby from the local council. Local architect MawsonKerr was appointed to re-purpose it and make it useable as a cinema and community events space.

This was a tall order. Not only was the conversion of the sizeable property to occur on a tiny budget, with onerous acoustic requirements, but Star and Shadow’s sustainable ethos demanded that it use materials either recycled and re-used from the former property, or donated. This was combined with the fact that it was going to be largely volunteer built by people with little or no experience of construction. With a call-out to the local community over 300 people of all ages and backgrounds came together to help.

  • The new event space inside the old carpet store caters for up to 200 people.
    The new event space inside the old carpet store caters for up to 200 people. Credit: Arto Polus
  • Lobby glazing to the winter garden was all donated from local builders merchants.
    Lobby glazing to the winter garden was all donated from local builders merchants. Credit: Arto Polus
  • The lobby extends along the old carpet store shopfront.
    The lobby extends along the old carpet store shopfront. Credit: Arto Polus
  • Over 200 volunteers came together to help strip out and re-build the interior.
    Over 200 volunteers came together to help strip out and re-build the interior. Credit: Arto Polus
  • The new cinema space with its artist designed ceiling installation.
    The new cinema space with its artist designed ceiling installation. Credit: Arto Polus
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Pipework and flooring from the old venue created the external balustrade and bar, left-over glass panels from local glazing firms helped build the ‘window-wall’ to the café. Cinema seats were gifted  and donated random tiles went on toilet walls. Tonnes of plasterboard removed from the old building found itself re-used for the new partition walls.

The total spend on the project was £1.1 million, which included the cost of buying the building, with most of the money raised from grants and gifts. Since the new facility opened, 500 members have joined and there have been over 200 new volunteers. Not only self-sufficient, this amazing initiative is independent and growing.

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