Fig: 1 - A drive-in cinema in action - (Credits: J. R. Eyerman)
The history of drive-in theatres goes back to the 1910s as a solution for people not being comfortably seated in the tiny seats in the traditional theatres. The famous catchphrase which shone the spotlight over the idea of drive-ins was created by the patentee.
“The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”
Drive-in’s lost their charm for various reasons such as oil prices rising along with alternative and better ways to watch a movie at high-end theatres or at home on DVDs.
As the pandemic has made its presence more obvious and ominous, and for a considerably long time for humans to go without work or recreation, people violating the lockdown are becoming the new normal, and even if things went back to normal, we’d need a safer alternative to closed theatres.
Fig: 2 - Drive-in theaters a symbol of 80s pop culture - (Credits: Hannah Barbara Prod.)
Around 40 years back cinema was banned in Saudi Arabia due to reasons such as the country’s economy running mainly oil-based and the clergy’s political support. But now that times and situations have changed, in 2018 theatres were reopened as a part of the program vision 2030.
According to the reviews by both new moviegoers and the ones who reminisced of their days before the ban, the experience was quite immersive and the air was filled with joy.
Back in the days, there were times when theatres in Saudi were barely a white screen placed in an open field and people gathered around on chairs watching Egyptian and Indian movies which were famous there at that time.
Today since the pandemic has rendered the concept of traditional theatres inefficient, it's time we put both history and a dead form of cinema back to life.
Fig: 3 - Patrons watch "The Greatest Showman" in the Bel Aire Diner's parking lot in Queens, N.Y.
After almost 40 years the people of Saudi Arabia are about to experience cinema, it's a fresh audience with minds yet to experience conventional methods of cinema and are open to new concepts.
The challenge here is to design a new user experience-based drive-in theatre in the given site for an automobile-centric audience.
The point that people of the locality are open to fresh concepts and experiences can be used to the designer’s advantage and provides an opportunity to explore new horizons of theatre experience. With the ongoing crisis, we must find safer alternatives to return to normal life, and drive-ins are one of those efficient ways.
Drive-in theatres essentially being an open space give a lot of scope for the project’s future expansion as a bigger recreational center too.
Navigation – Develop smooth navigation within the drive-in cinema.
Built/Unbuilt – Using built and unbuilt features to create a unique architectural experience.
Experience – Managing noise, air pollution, and other issues of managing too many cars together.
Expansion – Building avenues for expansion with evolution in the mode of transport of the future.
Capacity - 400 cars [The theatre can be split into two or more separate theatres]
The site is located in King Abdullah district in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is the heart of the movement and can be accessed by the king Abdullah branch road.
Site area – 40,027sq.m
Max. FAR – 0.5
Ground coverage - 50%
Height Restriction – 15m
Coordinates - Maps