London's most prominent new landmark, the imax cinema in the Waterloo Bullring, is now near its final form. Although the cinema, designed by Avery Associates for the British Film Institute, opened on 1 May, the 15m-high blow-up of a Howard Hodgkin painting, sited within the building's glazed gallery, is only now in place. Along with an inventive planting scheme, this helps to make the imax an important new element in the landscape of London.
The gallery is supported on steel columns suspended from the roof. Beneath it the building is clad in white polyester powder-coated curved aluminium panels, with curved glazing at ground-floor level.
Avery's circular building contains the uk's largest cinema screen, more than 20m high and 26m wide. Viewing is perfect, allowing the special- format films to make an overwhelming impression. The interior of the building is of a quiet quality, with widespread use of Avery's characteristic blue and well thought-through elements such as an irregularly shaped baluster on the illuminated glass-sided staircase, introducing a touch of designer thinking.
Technical requirements included isolating the 482-seat auditorium from the vibration of the underground tunnels beneath it, and sound-proofing it from the considerable traffic noise. It is mounted on oil-damped spring bearings at first-floor level, and has 750mm-thick walls. But almost as important as the building itself is the new and pleasant pedestrian route that is created, a precursor of the much-needed improvements anticipated with the redevelopment of the South Bank.
The building will be circled by a 'canopy' of more than 2000 plants which will also extend across the pedestrian walkway. Watered by an automatic irrigation system they will include honeysuckle, jasmine, wisteria, clematis, ivy, Boston ivy and Japanese vine.
Client adviser: Stanhope
Construction manager: mace
Structural engineer: Anthony Hunt Associates
Services consultant: tme Engineers
Acoustic engineer: Bickerdike Allen Partnership
Landscape architect: John Medhurst
Quantity surveyor: Northcrofts