The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Buildings at risk

BFI IMAX Cinema, Lambeth, London

Status: COI granted - Still at risk

Boasting the widest cinema screen in the country when it opened in 1999, this is an important building in the development of cinema. Designed by Bryan Avery of Avery Associates, the IMAX has won several awards including the Millennium Design Award from the Design Council. With an underground line running just 4.5 metres below the surface of what had previously been the empty centre of a traffic roundabout, it was a sensational feat of engineering, with pile foundations threaded down between the tunnels and a deep concrete slab constructed over them to support the building’s weight. The auditorium sits on springs to counter vibrations caused by the proximity of the tube and the external facades feature a secondary glazed curtain wall and thick insulation to create a sound barrier. The frame for the curved curtain glazing features a bespoke bracket system, and was top-hung to allow public access around the perimeter walkway.  The building, made possible with a £20 million grant from the Arts Council, featured a number of public artworks including a Howard Hodgkin’s mural wrapped around the perimeter of the building that remained in place until 2006, since when it has been replaced with advertising. In scale with other important cultural buildings close by, the IMAX is one of eight sites in Waterloo identified as suitable for tall buildings in the updated Lambeth Local Plan.

Status: COI granted – still at risk

Buildings at risk

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