Dream Palaces: an introduction to cinema architecture

Granada Cinema, Tooting, London

This presentation surveys the way purpose-built cinema buildings developed after the passing of public-safety legislation in 1909. 

The significance of cinema buildings in the development of twentieth-century British architecture arises from the dominance of “going to the pictures” in the nation’s social life from the time of World War I until the arrival of television in the 1950s. 

In the course of three decades, exterior styles changed from elaborate imitations of Victorian Edwardian theatres to the sleek streamlining that is now labelled Art Deco, while interiors ranged from elaborate “atmospheric” creations and scholarly architectural revivals to stunning essays in modernity making maximum use of indirect lighting. 

A surprising amount of cinema architecture has survived the slump in the industry that followed the development of television, and the finest examples represent some of the best of inter-war British architecture. 

For background information about this topic, please click here.