Cinemaxx Junior is the first cinema of its kind in Asia and breaks new ground in the typology, offering a blended experience of visual and physical entertainment for children and their families in fun and cheerful surroundings.
The concept of Cinemaxx Junior arose from the observation that families with young children often do not fully enjoy their first experiences together at the cinema, where silence is expected and parents pay more attention to their children than the movie. This created a unique opportunity to custom-design a space dedicated to children aged three to ten and their families, by bringing together the two enjoyable activities of movie-watching and playing. In a distinct departure from the traditional movie-going experience, Cinemaxx Junior redefines and expands the movie experience by offering patrons the freedom to move around at will. Children are not constrained to assigned seats but are instead encouraged to explore the play and screening areas while interacting with other children in a fun and safe environment. With the play element fully integrated with the movie experience, parents and guardians no longer have to worry that their child would disturb other visitors, which exponentially increases their enjoyment of the space.
Designed to appeal to the eyes and senses, there is no linear set path to enjoy the space – a child can choose to slide, climb, crawl, jump, swing from place to place, or just spin lazily in a cocoon-shaped spinner. There are multiple points of entry into the screening area from the play area and a variety of ways to reach them. One of the most exciting ways to enter would be to climb up the yellow ‘Wall-o-lla’, a play structure designed by the Dutch company, Carve, to reach the tube slide, which lets children slide into a colourful ball pit right below the movie screen. Given the high ceiling of the play area, the design optimised the opportunity to create multi-level experiences by introducing a mezzanine level, and a bridge structure that serves as a support for the climbing tree and connects to one of the entrances to the screening area. The bridge also leads to the longest of the four tube slides, mounted on a wall right within the screening area. The progressive approach to play and emphasis on tactility and social interaction fully immerse children in the space, while the non-directional circulation and programmatic paths encourage freedom of expression and independent thought, leading to new experiences.
The cinema accommodates 106 people at full capacity, translating to approximately 30 families per session. The seating configuration was specially designed to appeal to a child’s sensibilities, with four types of seats upholstered in stain-resistant vinyl fabrics in vibrant colours. The seating design encourages informality, with bean bags, loungers, sofa beds and standard cinema seats. The non-conventional seats were also designed to foster parent-child bonding where, for example, the parent and child could choose to cuddle at the beanbags while watching the movie, much like how parents would cuddle their children while telling them bedtime stories at home.
Extensive thought was put into the selection and design of the diverse range of play equipment to achieve a good balance of high physicality and low-impact activities for children to choose from. The design of the washrooms was also catered for children, with the majority of the fixtures installed at child-friendly heights, and spacious nursing and changing facilities are also provided.
Comprehensive and in-depth consideration was given to the design in terms of function, aesthetics, range of play equipment, and lighting, with safety at the forefront. Lighting and sound designs had to cater to the high level of activity expected in the screening area. Specifically, special attention was paid to address safety concerns and ensure optimal viewing conditions. While the overall lighting had to be dim, the overall lux level was kept between 80 and 100 lux to ensure that children running around can see their way clearly. Indirect lighting was also incorporated into the padded wall panelling in the form of whimsical lollipop-like trees to provide a diffused glow along the platform steps. Generous legroom provided along each platform allows for a safe passageway for running children. In the play area’s layered ceiling feature panels, a mixture of diffused cove lighting, wide-angle downlights and non-directional track-lighting were used to avoid excessive glare while maintaining a dynamic lighting atmosphere within the space.
More than its prescribed function of a playground and a cinema, Cinemaxx Junior’s seamless and skilful blending of the two separate recreational functions transforms the movie-going activity into an enriched family entertainment experience and results in a celebration of family and togetherness.