Arena UK & Europe supply BFI temporary cinema

Two divisions of Arena UK & Europe, part of Arena Group, played a key role in building a temporary cinema in central London for the BFI London Film Festival.

Working with People, the live creative agency who ran the project on behalf of the BFI, teams from Arena Structures and Arena Seating built the 829-capacity cinema in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

It was the second year the Arena Group was asked to build the bespoke cinema. Last year it was constructed for the first time for the BFI’s 60th anniversary events. Meant as a one-off project, it was so successful that the decision was made to repeat it this year.

Using the company’s unique I-Novation temporary building, Arena Structures’ crew, overseen by project manager Phil Bish, built the 25m x 35m structure with 40mm solid walls and clad in the latest BFI branding in a week and a half. The crews worked in shifts taking care to ensure noise was kept to a minimum in the evenings out of respect to local residents.

Alongside the auditorium the Arena Structures team built a box office, toilets and VIP hospitality area, all of which were housed inside the main building. Bespoke panelling between the cinema and the rest of the building was dressed with heavy black wool serge drapes for sound proofing.

A covered red carpeted 5m x 25m walkway ran along the front of the building, adding to the sense of glamour for guests who attended the films. Overall, more than 25,000 visitors were able to watch the latest independent films and international premieres in the cinema, with 45 different screenings during the festival.

For the audience’s comfort, tiers of fully upholstered Diplomat seats, which came with drinks holders and arm rest to reinforce the sense of being in a permanent building rather than a temporary one, were built on a reinforced sub structure. Separate to that, the projection platform was constructed above and behind the last row of seats, with the building process ensuring no vibrations from the audience interfered with the projection quality.

Dave Withey, who project managed the Arena Seating install, said: “We met with the client after last year’s event and looked into further creative improvements to build on the success of the 60th anniversary. We reconfigured the seating to make access and egress easier for the audience and also improved the sightlines from the seats nearest the staircases, a benefit of which was being able to fit in 40 more seats than the previous year.

“Victoria Embankment Gardens is a challenging site because once the footprint of the cinema is laid out there is very little other space to work with, but when you are partnering with a client as good as People it makes the whole thing run smoothly.”

Tim Elliott, founding director at People, said: “The on-site teams from Arena Structures and Seating were a pleasure to work with, as always. They worked tirelessly to deliver the desired product in what was a challenging and restrictive site.

“The cinema saw more than 25,000 people flow through it during the London Film Festival, which we are very proud of.”

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