Architect-designed cinema opens in south east London

Architect-designed cinema opens in south east London

Catford Mews – a new three-screen cinema and community hub – is sensitively designed by Really Local Group

Recently opened, Catford Mews is located just below the paws of the locally-famous giant black cat statue, that looks like it’s about to pounce onto the South Circular. It’s an unconventional space to find a cleverly-designed movie theatre. Catford Mews boasts a moody-blue three-screen cinema, a food market, café, bar, live entertainment venue, co-working and exhibition spaces – all in the stripped-back shell of a local Poundland.

Bargains can still be found inside, however. Really Local Group crowd-sourced ideas and comment from Catford residents, in order to provide a genuinely useful and usable community space. And so, popcorn is reasonable, ticket prices affordable, and food from one of the local market vendors is priced for Catford not Dalston. Try Fuse’s fragrant Vietnamese-fusion chicken, and come on a Sunday afternoon for the ‘Family Favourite’ screening for just £2 a head.

Remnants of the old design, remain, too. While most of the floor tiles have been painted over in a classic warehouse grey, a circle has been deliberately left in the middle of the space, where the original orange and brown shopfloor tiles peak through, providing a physical memory of the space’s former life. Elsewhere, familiar warehouse tropes are in abundance, with bare walls and exposed ventilation systems.

Catford Mews red bar with circular seating

Catford Mews is one of the first steps in a ten-15 year regeneration plan for the area. A new publication Catford Conversations – that can be picked up on site – reveals more. ‘Lewisham Council is preparing a framework – a shared vision for how Catford’s town centre could be transformed over the next decade. Following the decision to re-route the South Circular, the Council is encouraging bold thinking of how the heart of Catford can be improved.’

Lyttelton.Yates, the designers behind the venue, have gone a long way to keep a sense of community at the cinema’s heart, with space for a local charity prominently placed. The space itself is inviting, with some stand out features. Two beautifully crafted bars bookend the space, one serving coffee and the other offering a selection of alcoholic drinks. Classic ‘cinema’ stereotypes have been neatly sidestepped too, with contemporary lighting, a refreshingly boring popcorn stand, and no faux art deco billboard typography in sight.

‘I’d love for someone to think: Catford, I’d really like to live there,’ says a local woman on an advertisement that plays before the film starts. At this, the audience – clearly filled with locals (of which this writer is one) – lets out a genuine, communal cheer. §

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