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How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 06 Dec 2005 06:56 #11389

  • Pieman
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Our cinema is sadly a concrete box. Built in the 1980's, it was decked out in baby pink, baby blue and pale gray (yes, very..interesting.. colour scheme when one has cola being spilt all the time!!)
We have repainted the walls an azure blue.....but what else can we do?? I wouldn't think it feasible to try and make the place look art deco or anything like that, but there must be something we can do to make it look less like a box.
Any suggestions on how to make it look like an entertainment place without costing a fortune???
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 06 Dec 2005 11:08 #11390

  • jimor
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The cheapest decoration is always paint. Assuming that your interior walls are smooth concrete, you can do something as simple as wide bands of suitable colors abutting each other and perhaps decending from the ceiling near the screen and dropping down to near seat level and then curving back toward the rear and continuing to the back wall where they might turn up toward the ceiling. These are essentially straight lies with curves made by using a string on a nail attached to a pencil to trace the different radiuses at the bend. Paints need not be dull and flat; there are sorts with glitter embedded that may dazzle in discreet application on PARTS of a wall, and there are others containing flameproof flock that make the wall look like velvet, which can be a rich contrast with gloss enamels or glitters. Washability of a paint must be considered from about 6 feet down on the wall; someone is going to spill something on it someday. Or, a wainscott of suitable paneling might be glued there to avoid the marks of abriasion of people or marrs from spills/vandalism.

The next least expensive covering is wall covering, at least for some panels on the walls, if not the entire area. A commercial dealer may have larger patterns more suited to your space, but sometimes you can work out a deal with a local retailer to buy at discount some slow moving patterns in sufficient quantity to make panels --either flat on the wall, or of multiple planes mounted so as to rise above each in a high relief to break up the wall and create shadow patterns.

Shadows bring up the third cheapest way to decorate: with light. You wouldn't choose incandescent lights since they are expensive to run and don't last long. Fluorescents mounted behind panels may create interesting back-lighting, but they will burn for at most two or three years before they must be replaced. If you have to get ladders up to them, it will cost more and take more time, but fluorescents can be wrapped in colored plastic films available for spotlight use from theatre supply firms to give a color effect and to be of less light during the program. Mounting a light fixture within reach of the floor invites the taller teenagers to try to remove the lamps and/or fixtures, so mounting out of reach is imperative, and usually looks better in a large room. Electical connections are expensive when done by a licensed electrician, but it will void your insurance if you do it yourself. Check with your local Bldg. Inspection authority to learn their requirements. Other types of lights have longer lifespans, but may cost more to buy/install: small HIDs can be hidden behind grilles or sheet metal shades that you have punched star holes or other hole shapes into to spread a pattern on the blank wall. Low voltage LEDs bought from a theatre supply house may be securely mounted out of sight and left on 24/7 at low cost if you want to avoid the cost of switches and switch boxes for them, but there will still have to be a steel box to hold their transformer and surge arrestor/fuse. IF properly made, LEDs will last almost forever since ther is nothing to burn inside them (they produce no heat). Experiment with some Christmas light forms of them now sold and see if you like the effect, then search for permanently-wireable forms and have them installed according to code for an auditorium.

Are you handy with a wood saw? If so, cheap planter boxes in any shape can be made and fixed to the wall with artificial foliage pouring out of them. You bend the wire stems into a ball of hardware cloth hidden inside the box, and pour cheap plaster of paris around the ball of stems, and all is secured. With a box (or bowl, cone, trough, etc.) mounted high on the wall, a festoon of leaves can descend to another planter lower on the wall, and from there to yet a lower one, creating nice contours that may be used to visually connect different panels that you have previously painted there. Make up a leaf-shaped stencil and create trains of leaves going about the panels behind the planters of leaves and you will create depth of interest in the design. Large murals are also available commercially, and will make splendid panels upon the walls if there is enough intermission light to see them, and with planters of foliage around them, the look will be professional. Cheap foliage is now sold seasonally at the dollar stores; check it out at a dollar a stem; compare that total to commercial catalog prices for such.

Do you have bolts of cheap, already-flameproofed fabrics available? Then you can create sweeping designs upon a painted wall by making large medallions out of particle board and using them to hide the points of attachment of the fabric, which can then swoop in swags down and across the wall. With effective lighting, the swags will look rich and very ornamental, but must be out of reach of the patrons. With some immitation tassels made in large scale to hang from the medallions, the complimentary vertical element will be injected to enrich the look of the fabric. You could mount the swags upon the ceiling at intervals and bring it down the wall, and tied back there, and this would help break up the look of a tunnel-like room. A local theatre supply house may have bolts of fabric they have flameproofed but have not sold, and may gladly get rid of them on the cheap to gain the storage space. Check around. With the use of such as fabric glues and nylon locking ties, there may no sewing required.

One cinema here in Milwaukee found a Minneapolis group of guys who painted phosphorescent paint upon blue walls in the forms of modes of flight through the ages (from birds, to dirigibles to planes) to create the theme of the long-gone AIRWAY, and blue neon strips along a ceiling soffit made the designs glow during the program, and properly built and installed neon will last for many years if installed by a neon artist rather than a sign shop.

You might advertise for or solicit amateur 'artists' at local schools to see if any would be willing to make sketches of ideas they may have to paint designs or murals upon your walls. Select someone's work you like, and ask for an estimate of time and materials costs. If they have a portfolio of previous work/commissions, so much the better. Can such a person design in aluminum sheeting to create three dimensional shapes that a class in the shops at a local trade school might take on as a project? (free or low cost design, free labor of fabrication, and maybe only low materials costs to you if you give them a plackard in your lobby with snap shots of them and their names and showing what they created for your theatre; that may be all the fees they require. IF your community is small enough, the local paper may run a series of articles about your 'contest' to get designs for your theatre's decor; a prize might even be offered, but any prize should be held in escrow first, so as to assure everyone that it is on the 'up 'n' up.' You can also make up your own overall design and only ask for ideas on how it should be achieved. Best Wishes. Jim, member Theatre Historical Soc. since 1976 ( www.historictheatres.org )
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 06 Dec 2005 11:37 #11391

  • lionheart
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I've also been looking around for ways to dress up a simply designed building. One thing I have come across is something called "architectural foam". If you do an internet search under that term you will find many companies that offer catalog items as well as custom made architectural details or specialty items. You can find columns, arches, beams, moldings, signs, statues, etc. They are used inside or outside. The websites claim this material is significantly more economical than using wood or concrete.

If you have not heard of using foam, then this may sound strange. But if you start reading up on it, you'll soon discover that foam is already being used all around us to create some pretty cool architecture. Just by looking at the first result in a Google search, I found a site with plenty of pictures to look at. They also have a video. Here is the link: www.pcfoam.com/opening.html

Here is another site which gives a good basic description of the foam material and the manufacturing process, as well as some of the material characteristics such as stating that it has a “CLASS "A" FLAME SPREAD RATING”. They also have a catalog page. www.archfoamproducts.com

I have no affiliation with the foam industry, but I've been reading about it, and it sounds like it might be worth checking out.


[This message has been edited by lionheart (edited December 06, 2005).]
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 06 Dec 2005 12:08 #11392

  • rodeojack
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Just make sure any materials you put in there meet applicable fire codes.

That architectural foam may be fire retardant... but that sure sounds like an oxymoron!
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 07 Dec 2005 06:52 #11393

  • Pieman
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Wow, you have given some great suggestions..I will no doubt use some of them..just have to come up with a cool design!! Thanks!
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 07 Dec 2005 10:37 #11394

  • Mike
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May I suggest this thing called ARTISTS. They can be found hanging around even the most backwater towns. They are cheap and disposable and the pay scale will make migrant farm workers look greedy. Get some ARTISTS in there and let them go. And yeah.... PAINT! Check out our first theatre www.colonialtheatre.com great paint and an elephant on the roof.

Michael Hurley
Impresario
Michael Hurley
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 07 Dec 2005 14:26 #11395

  • SamCat
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Do you have any photos. Does anybody know how to put photos up here?
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 07 Dec 2005 15:51 #11396

Ok, that azure sure sounds nice... Now try adding various lighting.

1. Lighting is key for any space. Don't use regular lightbulbs, but don't go over board on flourescent either. Try some halogen, track lighting... Focus a lot of lighting on the concession stand as well.

2. You have to think of a theme that goes with the raw concrete. How about raw material? Use unfinished wood, finished wood, rocks, water, copper/stainless steel. Even though the concrete's painted, you can still pull the raw resource theme together.
Since 1987
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Re: How do you pretty up a concrete box?? 08 Dec 2005 03:59 #11397

  • Pieman
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Mike
once a few years ago (ok, it was for the first Jurrassic park) we hired some artists to do our foyer in dinosaur theme.... what we got was terrible as they in their artistic wisdom decided to get some kids in to do it for us...arghh, our luxury forrest ended up being some skinny 3 foot "trees" and stick dinosaurs!!LOL< it kinda put us off artists, but yeah, we should give some different artists a go. Your building looks great, esp the elephant!!

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