Cinema Paradiso

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The colourful frontage of the new Light House Cinema.

The colourful frontage of the new Light House Cinema. Image: Paul McCredie

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Swamp timber has been used to infuse a warm aesthetic into the lobby spaces.

Swamp timber has been used to infuse a warm aesthetic into the lobby spaces. Image: Paul McCredie

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An eclectic palette was chosen for the interior.

An eclectic palette was chosen for the interior. Image: Paul McCredie

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Blues and purples have been used to warm the interior.

Blues and purples have been used to warm the interior. Image: Paul McCredie

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Quirky details make the interior eclectic.

Quirky details make the interior eclectic. Image: Paul McCredie

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Cosy fabrics and rich colours used in one of the theatres.

Cosy fabrics and rich colours used in one of the theatres. Image: Paul McCredie

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Situated at 29 Wigan Street, off Cuba Street, the new Light House Cinema  designed by John Mills Architects, has just been added to our Wellington must-see list.

The site itself has a colourful history; once a condemned 1890s’ brick stable, it was later utilised as a ‘chop shop’, before the building was demolished (and rumour has it, the occupants were arrested). 

The most recent owners wishes for the redesign were simple: keep the budget to a minimum, keep them involved where possible, and maintain the friendly Light House aesthetic (it’s one of three family-run Light House cinemas in the lower North Island) while embracing the culture of the surrounding Cuba Street precinct.  A patchwork of vibrant celluloid panels applied to the street-facing facade has given the building an eclectism and colour and tied it back to its history and place. At the same time, it has allowed the light and activity inside to shine out to the street.

“This is very downtown Wellington architecture: lost, yet homely, resonant and contextual; an analogue building in a digital world,” says John Mills. The design of the interior spaces (a spacious lobby, bar and three small auditoriums) feels just right for an alternative but unfussy cinema-going experience. There are various warm, bright hues of blues, greens and aubergine alongside a selection of contrasting elements — swamp timbers, copper, raw plaster, plush fabrics and glossy tiles.

This is a boutique cinema experience that’s not too fancy or overdone. You can grab a craft beer, coffee or ice-cream before sitting down to enjoy a film in one of three intimate theatres, each sprinkled with their own homely touches.  lighthousecuba.co.nz


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