Odeon Cinema Swiss Cottage, London

Located in north London, the Odeon Swiss Cottage is a fine, surviving building from the Odeon Cinema chain. Unlike many of the original Odeon cinemas the building maintains its original purpose and is still part of the Odeon chain. Like many of the early Odeon cinemas the Odeon Swiss Cottage was designed by the Weedon Partnership, with Basil Herring assisting Harry Weedon in the execution of the design. Overall, the design features were used on a number of cinemas designed by Weedon.

The general form of the cinema resembles the earlier Odeon in Loughborough built in 1936 and the Odeon in Dudley built in 1937. However, the design at Swiss Cottage departs from those in its lack of external faience cladding, which was a common feature on many Odeon cinemas of the time; the biscuit-coloured faience and red Odeon signage became a "house"-style for the Odeon Cinema chain.

In form the Odeon Swiss Cottage is essentially a block-shape with streamlined, rounded corners on the main elevation. The elevation comprises seven central bays separated by angular pilasters, with tall, recessed metal-framed windows. A deep, projecting ground-floor canopy extends the wide of the seven bays, with seven sets of double doors providing entrance to the foyer. The lower facade beneath the canopy features horizontal rusticated bands.

Clad entirely in red-brick, above the window bays are affixed large lettering spelling out the name Odeon. Above, the upper portion of the main elevation is again broken by horizontal rusticated bands; this was a common feature on many other Odeon cinema designs. To the right-hand side of the main block is a two storey wing; the ground floor is let to a retail unit.

The largest Odeon cinema at the time of its construction, it cost £57,550 to build (a figure of £3.7 million in today's money). The cinema originally had seating for 2,115 patrons with 1,281 seats in the stalls and 834 seats in the balcony. The cinema was 'tripled' in 1953, that is to say the a floor installed to separate the balcony and stalls, and the space beneath sub-divided to create two smaller cinemas.

The cinema was modernised in the 1960s, with the ground floor facade modernised and the canopy replaced with a more angular design (the illustration shows the original canopy). The configuration was again further changes with more screens provided.

The cinema was refurbished in 1998 and currently features four "luxury reclining screens". The canopy was replaced with a design more in keeping with its original form.  Sadly, in the process of reconfiguring the interior of the cinema over the years the original features of the wonderful auditorium have been lost. The cinema is currently not listed.


Posted on Monday, November 12, 2018

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