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Pathé Schouwburgplein

Location: Rotterdam

Client: Pathé Theatres BV, Municipality of Rotterdam

Design: Koen van Velsen architects, EUP design

Phase: Construction completed

Pathé Schouwburgplein is Rotterdam’s leading inner-city cinema, found on the Schouwburgplein. With its new facade, several extensions and a new shop and foyer, the cinema is blossoming once again.


Pathé Schouwburgplein is a cinema in the heart of Rotterdam, designed by architect Koen van Velsen. The cinema opened its doors in 1997 and features seven auditoriums—including an IMAX room—and 2,722 seats.


The cinema was built on top of the existing car park located underneath the Schouwburgplein square. The garage’s roof structure proved too weak to support the driving load. To prevent cars from entering the square, West 8 designed the surrounding square as an elevated (playing) field.

Expanding the entrance area on the south side

In 2014, we created a design for the cinema's expansion on the south side. The entrance hall proved insufficiently spacious at peak moments. Moreover, the contour of the building included niches and corners that quickly polluted and failed to contribute positively to the atmosphere around the entrance.


In addition, the route for visitors in wheelchairs was long and only accessible when accompanied by cinema staff. Due to a lift in the entrance hall, their visit to the cinema is now easier and more pleasant.


Toilet renovation

Based on our design, the toilets located centrally under the foyer were renovated in 2015. The capacity of the toilet area proved insufficient, partly due to its position and poor visibility. Experience with use and maintenance also revealed that the space called for new and different materials.


By creating a spacious toilet facility, connected to the route the audience takes after the film, the toilets are easily found and have sufficient capacity.    

Expanding the north side

For city visitors arriving at Central Station, the cinema's appearance was not attractive. The north side of the building looked low, dark, and often cluttered. An opportunity for improvement arose in 2016 with the construction of the connecting tunnel between the Kruispleingarage and the Schouwburgpleingarage. This addition allowed for the removal of the entrance to the garage underneath the cinema hall, and significantly improved the appearance of the north side of the building, facing the De Doelen concert hall.


The expansion of the north side features three components: a restaurant area for the cinema; a proper, spacious entrance area for the Schouwburgpleingarage; and an expedition entrance and lift for the cinema.


The restaurant area considerably enhances the appearance of the cinema on the main pedestrian route into town. The all-glass facade with structural glass fins offers ample opportunity for interaction between building and city.


This also goes for the entrance to the parking garage: transforming it into a pleasant and bright space will make the use the garage more pleasant, especially for visitors using the lift. The latter was positioned separately and was therefore difficult to locate. In addition, the lift, together with the escape staircase, blocked the line of sight between the buildings and made the urban space cluttered and unclear.


Properly accommodating the handling of goods and waste also contributes to improving the image of the cinema. Waste containers often sat in the street for long periods waiting to be emptied, and suppliers had to walk far to deliver their products to the cinema, leading to traces of use in the public space and interior.


Improving the public space and square

The expansion of the north side of the cinema brought further opportunities for improvements. Conversations with the municipality and stakeholders around the square revealed a desire to upgrade the appearance and accessibility of the square.


With the arrival of the new entrance to the garage, one of the triangular entrances in the middle of the square could be removed. It had obstructed the visual relationship between the Schouwburg and De Doelen, two important cultural buildings in Rotterdam. The same applied to the superstructure of the escape stairs and lift between the cinema and the Calypso building.


On the west side, the triangular structure of the emergency exit from the garage was replaced with a hydraulically operated floor hatch. In consultation with West 8, this hatch has been incorporated into the square.


The fire safety concept of the original building was based on the limited presence of combustible materials in the foyer. This principle hampered the exploitation and implementation of new commercial opportunities.


With DGMR as advisor, we designed the integration of a sprinkler system in the foyer in 2017, opening up new possibilities and purposes for this building section. Additionally, we provided the technical details and supervised the construction.

A fresh facade

The facade, dating from 1995, had lost its freshness over the years and suffered from pollution and damage. In 2018, Koen van Velsen created a design for an entirely new facade. We contributed to the design concept and worked out the design’s technical details.


The corrugated sheets on the exterior of the cinema made way for double-walled polycarbonate elements. The premise of the building—cinema halls held together by a strap—is emphasized by exposing the auditoriums as closed volumes. The band is made of polycarbonate—light and translucent. The halls are made of stucco—stone-like and closed.  

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