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Ritzy Picturehouse

Lambeth, London


The original Ritzy Cinema in Brixton (first known as the Electric Pavilion) dates from 1911 when it contained just one auditorium seating around 750 people. Since then the building has been restored following bomb damage in WWII and extended to house five cinema screens. The building is now grade II Listed and is occupied by City Screen.

Earle Architects was appointed to reconfigure the internal layout of the front-of-house areas including foyer, bar and kiosk areas. A series of planning and listed building applications were successfully submitted to allow for a new kitchen, seating areas, bars and combined ticket/concessions counter. The new kitchen allows hot food to be served to a new ground floor bar and restaurant at street level where it is more visible to passing trade. The works have also enable the Ritzy to tap into the lucrative breakfast trade and capitalise on the high footfall passing its doors each morning to the nearby tube station. In warmer months the bar/restaurant spills out into Brixton Oval - a busy public square linking the Town Hall, Tate Library, Ritzy and other amenities. The first floor cafe has been transformed to a cultural hub - the aptly named 'Upstairs at the Ritzy' offers live music, comedy, and performance. Externally, we designed new signage to aid way- finding and to knit the remodelled Ritzy with its extension which filled the neighbouring site next to the Tate Library. Works were completed in August 2009.

Earle Architects revisited the cinema in 2011 to help City Screen install a 3D projection screen in the main auditorium, offering audiences the latest entertainment technology in a historic setting. Backlighting has been cleverly incorporated to highlight the proscenium arch, making it visible through the perforated screen as audiences arrive in the auditorium.

Following the success of previous works and the huge popularity of Upstairs at the Ritzy, Earle Architects was asked by City Screen to design a partial infill of an existing floor void to increase the size of the venue and to make greater use of the adjacent external terrace by installing a series of glass doors. These works were completed in August 2012 after being granted Listed building and planning consent.

"Earle Architects were able to help us navigate swiftly through the myriad planning and listed building processes, and their help through to final handover was key in realising this important project on time and in budget."

City Screen Ltd