The original design brief for the new Palace Central Cinemas in Chippendale was to create an environment not unlike a bar, one that patrons would visit even if they weren’t seeing a film.
Unfortunately, the liquor licence didn’t allow this (customers must have a cinema ticket to drink), “but that was the concept which underpins the brief and the design”, says Damien Mulvihill, creative director at DesignOffice, the company that created the space.
Until you enter the cinemas themselves, the space is indeed reminiscent of a cocktail bar. Rich teal, deep purple and soft grey hues make up a large part of the interior colour scheme, with polished concrete lending an industrial edge. Metallic and neon accents throughout reinforce a luxurious but modern aesthetic.
Taking up the entire third floor of Central Park mall, the new venue has 10 standard cinemas and three Palace Platinum cinemas, as well as multiple bar and lounge areas, each with a distinct identity.
The idea was to create a relaxed hospitality experience, rather than that of a large-scale entertainment complex. In some ways it feels like visiting a premium airport lounge: guests are encouraged to arrive early, then relax and unwind over a martini or meal.
The Main Bar offers charcuterie and cheese platters, an automated wine-tasting station and specialty cakes from Brickfields. “With respectful apologies to Marcel Breuer, we heavily referenced the ceiling of the Whitney Museum [now the Met Breuer] in NYC for the lighting feature,” says Mulvihill.
There’s a Beer Hall too, offering more than 40 internationally and locally sourced specialty brews.
DesignOffice worked with Melbourne jeweller and artist Brenton Angel to create a large brass sculpture for the Platinum Lounge entry. “The sculpture hangs from a huge, raw concrete blade, and the contrast between this existing piece of structure and the fine repetition of the sculpture is one of my favourite elements,” Mulvihill says.
Natural light from large windows overlooking Central Park and along Broadway has been embraced, rather than blacked out. “Playing with the variation in natural daylight, the artificial lighting levels, colour temperature and hue, we’ve been able to make the spaces feel completely different from daytime to night,” Mulvihill explains.
The cinemas themselves are ultra modern, with reclining leather seats in premium cinemas (the front two rows recline even in standard theatres, allowing viewers to better see the screen) and, surprisingly, floor-to-ceiling windows in two auditoriums.
“I’m not aware of any other cinema in the world which has done this,” says Mulvihill. “One wall of the auditorium is glazed, so patrons enter the auditorium with daylight and views before the curtain closes as the trailers start.”
Palace is also planning to offer night-time “City Lights” screenings with the curtain open, giving patrons a rooftop cinema experience without exposure to the elements.
Palace Central Cinemas
Level 3, Central Park Mall 28 Broadway, Chippendale
(02) 9190 2290