'Expanding the role of what a cinema can be': what Saudi's first indie movie theatre will look like

The winning design features a 200-seat auditorium, an additional community screening room and an audiovisual library

Jeddah design studio Bricklab has won an Art Jameel international design competition for its proposal for Hayy:Cinema, a central component of Hayy:Creative Hub, the 17,000-square-metre space for the arts, which is due to open in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia next year.

The winning design features a 200-seat auditorium, as well as an additional community screening room, an audiovisual library, archive viewing rooms and an educational space. The Art Jameel website stated that the design "expanded the role of what a cinema can be".

Bricklab's design for Hayy:Cinema was selected from more than 100 entries by an international jury, which included Wael Al-Awar, co-founder of ibda design, the team behind Hayy: Creative Hub, and Faisal Baltyuor, chief executive of the Saudi Film Council. It was a blind process, meaning each proposal was represented by a number.

The jury praised Bricklab for the blueprint, which incorporated “elements designed to encourage the participation of the wider creative community with Hayy:Cinema”.

Bricklab was founded in 2015 by brothers Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz. In 2018, the brothers curated the inaugural Pavilion of Saudi Arabia, 'Spaces in Between', at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale.

“We are excited to contribute to this momentous project, which will surely reshape the cultural landscape of the city of Jeddah and Saudi as a whole," the brothers said in a statement. "We hope to achieve a benchmark project in terms of design excellence which dovetails with outstanding programming.”

Director of Art Jameel, Antonia Carver, said: "We saw that Saudi was gaining a fleet of outstanding commercial cinemas and asked ourselves how we could best contribute to the sector, and create opportunities for Saudi creatives and their audiences, from the ground up.

"Hayy:Cinema is the first bespoke home for Saudi and international independent film in the Kingdom. Its unique design, thanks to Bricklab, allows for not only film screenings, but also for skills development, education and community engagement.”

The jury also commended the shortlisted proposals by Civil Architecture, a firm based in Kuwait and Bahrain, and Lebanon’s Karim Nader Studio.

Hayy:Creative Hubb, which is due to open in Jeddah in winter next year, will have spaces for art and design galleries, performance and comedy clubs, cafes, an entrepreneurship incubator and digital studio for filmmakers, as well as a theatre, artists’ studios and an Art Jameel-run arts centre, designed to curate and host local and international exhibitions. The three-storey development will also feature internal courtyards surrounded by shaded terraces and walkways.