22nd November 2019

Lights, Camera, Engineering

In an age of online shopping and short delivery times, competition to grab consumers’ attention is fierce. Bricks and mortar retail is no longer based around straightforward transactions as interest in experiential grows. Selfridges has repeatedly demonstrated its understanding of this over the years with engaging and interacting events, including a pop-up theatre to recognise the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

The store’s latest move to capture the public’s imagination is the Cinema at Selfridges, a permanent addition bringing the silver screen to its Oxford Street flagship. An exclusive partnership with independent boutique cinema Olympic Studios, the new venue will show big blockbusters, classic cinema and independent films. Perega was appointed as structural engineers on the project, involved from the original concept report through to completion.

A global first, installing a cinema within a department store was not without its challenges. Crucially, the lower ground floor where it’s been constructed is occupied by significant process pipework, providing chilled water for the building. Moving the pipes wasn’t an option, so the entire design needed to be developed around them.

Additionally, high acoustic performance of flooring, walls and ceilings was key, ensuring no transferral of sound between screens.

Peter Williams, senior engineer and project lead, comments: “People often associate cinemas with vast spaces, however, the space earmarked to host the store’s cinema was more consistent with the size of large boutique cinemas. We could really focus on ensuring the high quality delivery of an exciting new, entertaining, luxury venue, in keeping with the brands it represents.”

The Cinema at Selfridges features three screens, the largest with a capacity of 80. Before and after films, guests can enjoy food and drink in an underground bar. The cinema opens as Oxford Street begins to undertake a significant transformation to cement its position as a cutting-edge, international shopping destination.