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Life in pictures - The Lexicon cineworld, Bracknell

At the heart of a far-reaching urban regeneration scheme, a multi-screen cinema building was to play an important role in bringing life back to one of the UK’s original new towns. Meeting aesthetic, weight and cost requirements, a vibrant cinema façade of back-lit Danpalon® polycarbonate cladding panels helped to achieve the scheme’s goals.

Background


The Lexicon is one of the UK’s largest urban regeneration schemes and includes a vibrant mix of 70 retail, food and leisure units. Replacing an ageing post-war new town centre, it has created an exciting new social and cultural heart for the town of Bracknell and the surrounding East Berkshire region.

Delivered by the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, a 50:50 joint venture between Legal & General Capital and Schroder UK Real Estate Fund, working with Bracknell Forest Council, this £240 million, 60,000m2 scheme was master planned and concept designed by architects BDP (Building Design Partnership), with MACE as main contractor.

Central to the leisure element of the scheme, and its night-time offering in particular, was a large multi-screen cinema complex, supported by an array of ten brand name casual dining restaurants.

The Lexicon’s 12-screen Cineworld is home to the only 4DX screen in the Thames Valley area. An immersive cinematic experience to stimulate all five senses, it features moving seats and special effects, including wind, fog, water and scents, all synchronised with the movie action.

The impressive cinema building was one of six all-new blocks making up the Lexicon’s Northern Quarter designed by BDP. The quarter also comprises two major anchor stores (M&S and Fenwick), retail units, restaurants and cafes, a multi-storey car park and 92 apartments.

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Requirements


By far the largest block in the Lexicon’s Northern Quarter development, the multi-storey, 12-screen Cineworld building is naturally a dominant structure. It needed though to blend in seamlessly with the other building blocks, and assist in the definition of pedestrian-friendly open and covered public streets and civic squares.

The cinema building design also had to honour ‘the greening of Bracknell’, a bold concept in the overall vision for the Lexicon scheme. The town of Bracknell sits within the beautiful rural landscape of Berkshire and there was a wish to help reconnect the centre with its more natural surroundings.

In addition, the cinema building needed to play a significant role in ensuring that the Northern Quarter remained a popular destination late into the evening. In conjunction with the neighbouring restaurants, cafes and bars it needed to help develop the town’s night-time economy.

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Solution


The architects BDP designed the Northern Quarter buildings using a rich warm palette of materials including brick, timber, feature-perforated aluminium, coloured glazing, copper cladding, living green walls and elegant street canopies. For the large cinema façade, Everlite Concept’s Danpalon® translucent polycarbonate panels were selected to echo the exciting visual language of the other buildings.

Although it is a key central structure to the scheme, we didn’t want the cinema building to appear overly-solid and too dominant. We wanted it to be ‘light’ in appearance, to reflect the sky and be almost ‘lost’ in it. At the same time, it had to harmonise with the range of contemporary materials employed in the design of the surrounding buildings. We originally considered an all-glazed solution, however from both cost and physical weight perspectives it was ruled out. It was simply too expensive and too heavy. We elected to use translucent polycarbonate panels instead and chose Danpalon® in particular for its simplicity and flexibility. It gave us a complete system solution that was very easy to integrate with other materials. Joseph Lee, Architect Associate at BDP

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Installed by Prater, the cinema façade was created using 16mm thick, 900mm wide green Danpalon® panels with a Softlite anti-glare co-extrusion. To help mitigate the height of the building, 4m long panels were specified in order to divide the 12m tall façade into less dominant, clearly defined storeys. The curtain wall below was composed of brickwork and glazed units.

  At each corner of the building, the natural flex of the wide polycarbonate panels was used to create a gently faceted, almost curved profile.

  Behind the facade, a wall of insulated composite panels provided the cinema building’s weatherproof skin and necessary acoustic performance. The Danpalon® system of fast-fix wall brackets and panel edge connectors was then used to create a cavity between wall and façade.

Within the cavity, an energy efficient flexible linear LED strip was installed to backlight the Danpalon® panels during the night – providing both downlighting from the upper sill and uplighting from the lower sill. The lighting scheme was applied to all sides of the building, illuminating more than 3,500 square metres of translucent cladding.

 

Results


 

Despite its large scale, this prominent 10-screen cinema building doesn’t overpower the remodelled town centre, far from it. During the day its subtle translucent green façade blends effortlessly with the big sky above, the surrounding mix of contemporary buildings and the rural horizon beyond. It’s light, animated, dramatic. It marries perfectly with the entertainment provided within.

And once day turns to night, the elegant façade’s extensive LED lighting makes the building positively shine. It simply glows. It’s welcoming, warm and inviting, without being at all garish or brash. It says, ‘come and see what’s inside. True to its aims, the cinema building plays its part in maintaining the town centre as a popular destination, both during the day and late into the evening.

The Lexicon regeneration scheme is an internationally recognised success story. It has attracted an unrivalled list of global retail, food and beverage brands and has generated 3,500 new jobs. At the REVO Gold Awards in 2017, The Lexicon won two awards: ‘Gold’ in the Re:new category, and ‘Best of the Best’ in the Re:turn category.

Serving an affluent catchment area with a population set to be a million by 2024, The Lexicon is regarded as a real catalyst for the future in a town and area where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time.

The cinema building is a major landmark feature in a revolutionary regeneration scheme. It’s bright and vibrant, both day and night. The centre of the post-war new town was run-down and had stopped working, now it’s totally remodelled and working harder than ever. It’s brought life back to Bracknell, and Danpalon® cladding has played a starring role.

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  • The Lexicon cineworld, Bracknell, UK
  • A Danpalon® façade for a next generation cinema experience
  • Architects : BDP
  • Installer : Prater
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