Chiara Del Core 16 jul 2021 Articles 0 comments

Entertainment buildings: guidelines between constraint and freedom

The design of buildings intended for public entertainment concerns multiple areas that should be analyzed as they have different needs and peculiarities. In fact, cinemas and theaters, dance halls and clubs, exhibitions and venues used for concerts, festivals and events fall into the category. It is therefore easy to understand how, depending on the specific intended use, the needs and consequently the spatial conformation of each individual building change. In fact, the user experience is different: if in discos and during a concert the spectator becomes an active part of the event, in the case of cinemas and theaters the user will be seated and will often passively attend the review. Based on the needs of the case, the spaces will be designed to meet specific needs and to provide the user with maximum comfort.

Let's now look at some guidelines that can clarify how the design process develops and what are the constraints to be respected regarding certain types of buildings intended for public entertainment.

A brief and useful differentiation

Once the category of belonging of these places has been clarified, it is useful to specify how by “buildings intended for public entertainment” we mean those spaces in which shows and reviews with a variable audience flow will be held. The interiors of each type of building will be divided into an area used for the performance of the show, an environment for users and some service and housing spaces for the necessary systems. In the larger and more structured buildings there will also be an entrance space divided into a cloakroom area and a ticket office corner with the cash desk. Spaces must be optimized to the maximum, always taking into account the safety and security of people. The entrances and environments will be sized on the extent of the expected flow of users and it will be good to ensure access and use even for the handicapped. From a hygienic-sanitary point of view, specific standards must be ensured and particular attention must be paid to the acoustic aspect, since these are structures used for shows and concerts.

That said, the building that will house the cinema, auditorium or theater must relate to the context in a balanced way and at the same time distinguish itself from the pre-existing one. This is because, being a place of exchange and meeting, it will have to become a point of reference, a pole of attraction and a recognizable place.

Zaha Hadid Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is part of the redevelopment project of an area of Baku (Azerbaijan) and is in continuity with the surrounding open spaces that serve as a link and social exchange. However, the building, which houses three auditoriums, a library and a museum inside, stands out with a strong personality from the context

Furthermore, all the environments should be conceived in order to symbolize at least in part the function they perform, favoring in any case the acoustic and lighting comfort in their entirety.


The cinema represents one of the most popular spaces in the last 50 years. Designed from the outset to provide an intense experience, it featured a generously sized screen and optimized audio systems compared to normal home televisions. Older buildings have smaller sizes and provide an entrance area and usually a single projection room. With the passing of the years and with technological progress, audio and video systems have become even more performing and cinemas have become true multifunctional centers, equipped with several rooms.

Today there are many types of cinemas: indoors, outdoors, multiplexes, multi-storey buildings. Each typology is characterized by a specific distribution of spaces and by different furnishings. In the first case, the cinema is represented by a variable-sized room with a screen and multiple armchairs oriented towards it. If the room is large, the rows of seats are arranged in a staggered manner, in order to ensure a good view for more users. The open-air cinemas are reminiscent of old drive-ins, but are equipped with seats and are not accessible by cars. The latter type has found a high consensus in this last period in which the pandemic has forced everyone to maintain a greater social distance and to prefer outdoor environments and not indoors where the virus would have found a greater chance of spreading. Finally, multiplex or multi-storey cinemas have spread in recent years and are often located in urban suburbs or outside the city. These are buildings that include outdoor parking lots on the square, multiple screening rooms, halls with ticket offices, bar, restaurant and games room. Of course, in all the aforementioned types there must be at least two toilets, one of which is for the disabled.

To view some interesting cinema drawings and related furnishings click here


It is a building intended for concerts and musical reviews and for this reason, great importance is given to the acoustic aspect during its design. The design process of this type has the dual objective of controlling the sound impact of the building on the context and ensuring the correct reception of the sound by the user. In fact, it is good that the sound reaches the recipient without undergoing significant variations with respect to how it appears when it is produced by the sound source. The other aspects that must be taken into consideration concern the conformation of the classroom, the layout of the stage and the seats, the minimum height of the ceilings and the choice of finishing materials.

The structural and compositional characteristics of the building will affect the internal acoustic comfort and for this reason it is necessary to make careful choices in this regard. In the event that the auditorium falls under restoration or refurbishment works, it is essential to analyze the state of affairs and provide for improvement actions if necessary. An example of this is the acoustic adaptation on floors which usually involves the addition of an insulating layer capable of detaching the spaces from the noise coming from the context, avoiding the propagation of sound to the outside and ensuring optimization of sound reception. The intervention must be aimed at adapting the available space to the scenic and technical needs, while at the same time ensuring the quality of performance. In this sense, it is also good to check the state of the windows which, if dated, could cause sound dispersion. In addition, it is necessary to provide for the use of soundproofing materials combined with sound-absorbing ones such as rock wool, glass wool and melamine foam.

Casa da Musica in Porto, the work of OMA - Rem Koolhaas, has become a symbol of the city and is the institutional seat of three national orchestras
See here the project in dwg ... >>
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