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KP1, Bergen, Norway

Issue 52 Dec/Jan 2009-10 : Architecture : Entertainment


Though there was once a time when a cinema-goer’s experience was heightened by the grand auditoria in which films were shown, the arrival of multi-screen megaplexes in recent decades has caused a significant shift in the way we now consume movies. Where the emphasis was once on glamourous theatre interiors, today most cinema design settles for a more functional, often generic, look.

In an effort to buck this trend, one redevelopment project in the Norwegian city of Bergen has created a theatre that mixes old-school aesthetics with the latest acoustic and lighting technology.

Built in 1918, the Konsertpaleét building has long been a mecca for Bergen’s cinephiles. Originally conceived as a concert hall, it was converted to a cinema shortly after opening. Over the years, minor changes have kept the theatre interior current and functional, but owners Bergen Kino decided the time had come for a major redesign. Local firm Fuggibaggi Design was commissioned to develop a new interior concept and graphic identity for the building – beginning with its largest auditorium, KP1.

Ian Holcroft led the design team at Fuggibaggi. “The cinema experience is changing, obviously through technology, but also culturally,” he says. “Cinema-going finds itself in competition with new technologies such as the internet, computer gaming and home cinema systems – as well as live events or other cultural experiences. As the largest remaining cinema auditorium in the region it was important to go that little bit further, to give the auditorium something unique – a strong identity – whilst revealing some of the qualities which have been lost over the years.”

Fuggibaggi called in lighting consultant Rune Larsen (Lightcom AS), and he in turn suggested the involvement of Arne Grønsdal and his company CP Norway AS. Together the team set about developing a scheme that would highlight the building’s history whilst introducing a stylish, hi-tech ‘wow factor’.

Key to their design is an impressive star effect LED ceiling; though primarily intended to twinkle above the audience as they enter the auditorium, it is in effect a very low resolution screen, able to display a variety of colours and patterns or even low resolution video content. After looking at a number of different manufacturers and products, Grønsdal opted for Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex SL - whose proven reliability and 12-inch node spacing made it ideal for the task.

The ceiling uses 2,160 nodes controlled by DMX – a total of 13 DMX universes driving 6,480 channels. As each predrilled aluminium section was raised into place, CP Norway ensured the units were wired up correctly before connecting and programming it using an e:cue LCS1 control server.

Around the rest of the room, the thick strata of old paint and tangles of defunct technology have been removed to reveal many of the theatre’s original architectural features. Some of these, like the detail on the columns down the side of the auditorium, have been downlit by Delta Light fixtures, modified to use Tryka Module 6 Easy Link LEDs. 
More Tryka units are used above the theatre screen; 24 Module 12s with a 6º beam angle create punches of light – picking out the folds of the main curtain when closed and providing a textured effect on the white screen surface when open.

LED strips are used to outline the shape of the room, most notably the arched alcove at the back of the theatre, which is cove lit by FlexibleLED Strip from Italian manufacturer Elcom. “It was very important that we chose producers that use well sourced LEDs from respected LED manufacturers with an even colour temperature,” says Grønsdal. “FlexibleLED Strip incorporate Osram LEDs, and the strips are custom-made to include as many LEDs per metre as required  – so you can actually decide the light output from the density of the LEDs.”
As with the star ceiling, all architectural lighting is controlled by the e:cue system. A touch panel is located in the projection room, though this is used mostly for monitoring the progress of the lighting. The e:cue system is hooked up to the main projector computer so that preset schemes are triggered at different stages of each screening. The lighting will automatically dim as the pre show adverts begin, dimming further as the main feature starts, and automatically coming back up when the film finishes.

The technology also opens up the option of using the room for film premiers, themed events and corporate functions. Discrete entertainment lighting rigs are concealed to the side of the stage and can be brought in to play as required.

With the redesign of KP1 successfully completed in just five weeks, talks are underway to extend the concept to the rest of Konsertpaleét’s 12 auditoria in early 2010.



Pics: Daniel Clements Photography

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