Courtesy: Ole Scheeren

An awesome floating screen.

The drive-in movie theater may be a uniquely North American institution, but the icon of the wide-open American landscape recently experienced its most heroic revival in Thailand, leaping forth from its humble, grounded origins and into the clear blue waters of Nai Pi Lae lagoon on Kudu Island. For the final night of the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival earlier this month, guests were taken by boat to savor a final screening on a floating cinema designed by Beijing-based architect Ole Scheeren. Scheeren’s Archipelago Cinema consisted of a floating screen, cradled between two towering rocks, and a separate raft-like auditorium, together offering a spiritual and vaguely primordial cinematic experience.

Scheeren described the project rather poetically as “A screen, nestled somewhere between the rocks. And the audience…floating…hovering above the sea, somewhere in the middle of this incredible space of the lagoon, focused on the moving images across the water: a sense of temporality, randomness, almost like driftwood. Or maybe something more architectural: modular pieces, loosely assembled, like a group of little islands that congregate to form an auditorium."

Though the floating drive-in departs significantly from its American vernacular counterpart, the project adopted vernacular Thai building practices, gleaning techniques used by local fishermen to construct floating lobster farms. The cinema was crafted out of recycled materials, and its modular construction allows for flexibility and future reuse. In fact, after its run as a theater, Archipelago Cinema will be dismantled and donated to the community of Yao Noi as a playground and floating stage.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    In Paris, a Very Progressive Agenda Is Going Mainstream

    Boosted by big sustainability wins, Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pitching bold plans to make the city center “100 percent bicycle” and turn office space into housing.

  2. Design

    What’s Behind the Iconic Floor Plan of London

    The most common residential floor plans in European cities offer a window into urban history and culture. In London, it’s the “two-up, two-down” row house.

  3. photo: subway in NYC
    Transportation

    Inside Bloomberg's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

    Drawing on his time as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg proposes handing power and money to urban leaders as part of his Democratic presidential bid.

  4. photo: San Diego's Trolley
    Transportation

    Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

    In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

  5. Design

    Why Amsterdam’s Canal Houses Have Endured for 300 Years

    A different kind of wealth distribution in 17th-century Amsterdam paved the way for its quintessential home design.

×