Refurbishment of the First Cinema for Art House Film: Studio des Ursulines / h2o Architectes

  • 21 Sep 2012
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  • mini Refurbishment
© Stéphane Chalmeau

The initiative by h2o Architectes for the renovation of the first cinema for art house film follows the tradition of innovation and evolution that have been a part of this establishment’s history. The main project for the Studio des Ursulines in was concentrated on the lobby, as the existing theatre has been simply refurbished. Founded in 1925, by the actors Armand Tallier and Laurence Myrga, this theater continues it’s tradition today by catering to the younger Parisian public by providing a locale to discover cinema in it’s many facets. The small theater offers selective programming as well as the opportunity to meet those who make films. More images and architects’ description after the break.

© Stéphane Chalmeau

The existing lobby space, although small, must allow for greeting and welcoming the public composed of both youngsters and adults, selling tickets and hosting events. The original lobby is structured around a large oval centered on the ceiling and glazed wall cases framed in brass showcasing the movie posters and the the cinema’s news. These base building elements are preserved although refined in their treatments.

© Stéphane Chalmeau

The design team’s proposal was to regroup all functionalities into one central piece, hence liberating the rest of the space and creating a peripheral area in the lobby. Freedom of movement and circulation are made possible while increasing the sense of space. The fixture slides and unfolds to reveal the necessary uses : closed it serves as a counter ; open, it offers a register at it’s heart ; when the lower part is spread, it offers bench seating and tables for children. The rest of the functionalities are incorporated in the lateral walls such as storage, bookshelves, access to the control room, etc.

© Stéphane Chalmeau

A dynamic use of the fixture becomes apparent as adults and children make use of the fixture by making it their own. The movable boxes open up and reveal niches for display, storage or other secrets. The finishes are resolutely simple and contrasted. The fixture is tinted black, it slides on its base that is made out of brass. All equipment such as phone, register and printer are concealed so as to show only an abstract, playful and intriguing volume. The lobby is in perpetual movement and adapts to the varied configurations of life in an art house cinema.

Architects: h2o Architectes
Location: 10 Rue des Ursulines, Paris (75005)
Client: Studio des Ursulines
Program: Refurbishment of a Cinema and Lobby – Studio des Ursulines
Project Area: Lobby 40m², Cinema 140m²
Date: October 2011

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Refurbishment of the First Cinema for Art House Film: Studio des Ursulines / h2o Architectes" 21 Sep 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>