Opening of the Lexi Cinema by RISE Design Studio
Opening of the Lexi Cinema reimagined by Rise Design Studio
The Lexi Cinema reimagined by Rise Design Studio opens at Kensal Rise in London
Kensal Rise’s Lexi Cinema has reopened with design by Rise Design Studio. The much-loved community center and local landmark in north London needed a refresh to increase its capacity and refine its offering, when the local architecture studio led by co-directors Sean Ronnie Hill and Imran Jahn stepped in.
“We got involved about six years ago because it’s our local cinema,” says Hill. “We were approached by the Lexis and they first asked if we could help with some odd jobs around the cinema. We were first asked to do a beer garden from a small parking lot at the We managed to get the local planning manager here and, although the beer garden didn’t happen, we decided to start planning for a second screen, to expand the existing cinema. the same time, an electrical fire during the pandemic was “a watershed moment,” the team recalls Luckily, no one was hurt, but the building suffered extensive smoke damage and everything (including fabrics equipment, projector, seats, etc.) had to be replaced.
Seeing this as an opportunity rather than a challenge, the design team and Lexi founder Sally Wilton embarked on a delicate and compact transformation that saw part of the rear parking lot built up and transformed into a second screen, while interiors were tidied up, revamped and given a new lease of life by creating bonus spaces like a new guest bar (which features original artwork by Tracey Emin). At the same time, several features of the original structure (the Lexi occupies the building of an Edwardian gabled brick theatre) were retained and incorporated into the design.
Each of the venue’s two screens now has its own identity (one is deep blue and the other is lilac), while graphic designer Joan Zalacain volunteered to work on Lexi’s clever new orientation and signage. This, coupled with architectural gestures such as the ever-dark rubber tiles and pink walls in the hallways and lobby, pulls everything together seamlessly, visually linking the circulation throughout the cinema.
Sustainability was also a key part of the brief, as the architects used passive cooling techniques throughout, while incorporating a mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) system and designing the building so that it is hermetically sealed to minimize heat loss. A green roof in the new section of the building not only adds greenery to the neighborhood and views of neighbours, but also helps to support biodiversity in this very urban part of London.
“The Lexi Cinema occupies a special position in the Kensal Rise community, so we approached the project as an opportunity to contribute to both the built environment and the social life of the area. An exercise in community partnership, the Lexi Hub was designed to respect its neighbors while providing an invaluable space for them to gather, learn, contribute, connect and relax,” Hill said. §