studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands

from cinema to all-day de witt brasserie in Dordrecht

 

Studio Modijefsky breathes new life into a dilapidated large cinema, TheMovies, in the heart of Dordrecht. Revived as De Witt, an all-day brasserie alongside its three existing screens, the uplifted cinema offers a new combination of flavors and visual entertainment in and out of its spaces. Furthermore, as it is located opposite the Kunstkerk (‘The Art Church’), a platform for artistic development and innovation, De Witt contributes to establishing a new cultural hub in the city. The design concept captures the building’s rich history; before settling as a cinema, it served as a convent, school, and laboratory. Studio Modijefsky wove these historical layers into a timeless visual language with expressive shapes, warm colors, and materials that incorporate and evoke echoes of the past. More so, to firmly root De Witt in its community, the aesthetic adheres to the ‘Dordtse kleuren’, the city’s official color palette, based on Dordrecht’s historic buildings.

 

From the convent, the iconic motifs are the cloister (the secluded walkways that nuns use for meditations), the wimples (the head covering nuns wear), the habits, and the nuns’ clothing. The school’s presence is felt in the corridors, with tiled walls, windows looking into classrooms, bulletin boards, and class benches. Chemistry sets represent the laboratory in the shape of test tubes, holders, and protective glass screens. Finally, for the cinema, the studio recalls the old-school glamour of the silver screen with curtains, luxurious drapery, and spotlights.

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
all images © Maarten Willemstein

 

 

studio modijefsky alludes to the building’s layered history

 

Two entrances defined the building in De Witt’s old guise as The Movies. Today, Studio Modijefsky (see more here) reroutes visitors through a new main entrance designed by Lugten Malschaert Architects. The old facade is broken through to uncover old windows and create access to new ones, allowing natural light to fill the interior via a floor-to-ceiling glass front. Upon entering, guests discover the ticket booth encased in light blue velvet curtains hanging floor to ceiling and a vast wall of movie posters behind them. Spotlights add a dramatic edge to the booth and mark the beginning of a silver screen journey.

 

The former café and restaurant are replaced in a radical reshaping of the ground floor. The studio opened up the entire space, removing walls and an elevator, to create one larger brasserie with a central area, three smaller areas, and a bar — all connected by clear sightlines that allow light to flood in. For a more welcoming space, the orientation rotates to face the square outside and invites the city in. Diners enter the De Witt Brasserie by turning right immediately after entering the building. Here, they will be welcomed by an open kitchen with a long vermillion bench opposite, where they can sit to watch their food being prepared. The kitchen features tiles and windows that recall the building’s past as a school and custom lights inspired by the time it was a laboratory.

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
De Witt brasserie includes expressive shapes, warm colors, and materials that evoke echoes of the past

 

 

These lights consist of layers of bronze mirrors, lights, and glass panels that allude to the protective screens used during experiments. The long bench opposite features integrated lighting under the leather backrests, reflecting the speckled tiles and glass paneling above it – another reference to the old school. Wooden hanging lights provide further illumination in this area. The shape of these strip lights recalls the laboratory test tubes and come in three dynamic forms: with the oak part on top; in the middle; or at the bottom. Furniture-wise, Studio Modijefsky combined reclaimed vintaged chairs with custom-made tables (round and square, made with two types of wood with different edgings and interiors).

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
sweeping yellow curtains that fall four meters from floor to ceiling

 

 

playing with heights at de witt brasserie

 

Two parts of the De Witt brasserie are elevated to play with height: one corner that looks out of the high windows and the central space opposite the kitchen. They both stand on a warm-colored, chess-patterned stone floor clad in Aigües tiles handmade in Mallorca. The elevated parts are differentiated by an alternative floor pattern with squares instead of diagonals. Seating in the three smaller areas is provided by custom benches in the same shade of vermillion as in the main brasserie but with leather backrests and seats. The presence of the school is felt in the wooden divisions that demarcate where one should sit – however, nobody will mind if you break the rules here. The seating’s rounded edge details where the bench meets the wall indicate the softening of etiquette. Windows in these spaces and throughout the ground floor feature wimple frames inspired by the nuns’ head covering, made of thick dark linen and a warmer shade of grey.

 

Wimples also surround a series of ‘fake windows’ that mirror door openings in the brasserie. These are made of recycled canvas painted in shades of ivory, off-white, and subtle power dues to create new artworks that capture the interplay of light and shadow throughout the interior. Handcrafted alabaster lights between these windows decorate the entire De Witt interior.

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
Wimples made of recycled canvas painted in shades of ivory, off-white

 

 

a central bar alluding to the performing arts

 

Every corner inside the De Witt Brasserie is visually connected by hanging lights in the shape of cloister arches, given extra depth by aged brass mesh crowns above them. The lights reflect gently off the darker walls and ceilings surrounding them for an intimate atmosphere, leading diners to the dramatic bar: an ode to cinema and the performing arts, a stage with a three-layered velvet curtain in shades of indigo, from which cocktails are served under a spotlight. The bar is crafted like a curtain, with waves carved into its wooden base. The veins of the oak travel in two directions to form an eye-catching contrast: vertical on the bar and horizontal on the base. The bar top is made of zinc as a nod to a classic brasserie. Columns in the corners of the bar are tiled with pale blue tiles and handmade aged mirrors, designed to fit in precisely with the city’s color scheme. For a final allusion to the performing arts, the feet of wine glasses are positioned to hang just beneath the curtain, appearing like a ballerina’s dress beneath the curtain.

 

As diners walk around the bar, they’ll notice three standing tables in the walls between the door openings. These feature stunning Italian marble tops above two dark oiled oak layers. A private space can be created in one corner of the brasserie by closing off the sweeping yellow curtains that fall four meters from floor to ceiling. These curtains combine velvet on one side and linen on the other, offering an eye-catching visual contrast.

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
chess-patterned stone floor clad in Aigües tiles, handmade in Mallorca

 

 

velvety textures, wooden tones, and geometric tiling

 

Two staircases lead diners upstairs, which incorporate custom-made boards for movie posters with alabaster sphere lights above them and wimple shapes around them. At the top of the stairs, a film lounge with a bar and ticketing area emerges, with a floor pattern echoing the one downstairs but made of two shades of oak instead of tiles. A simpler version of the cloister arch lights without the aged brass mesh crowns conducts routing between the lounge and the two cinema screens. The film lounge is split by a wall, with a ticket booth on one side and a bar on the other. The bar seemingly travels between the walls – similarly to the wavey shape downstairs but differently colored on each side of the wall: dark oak for the ticket booth, painted blue for the bar.

 

The bar area has a blue velvet curtain backdrop, in front of which stands the bar topped with brushed stainless steel and a relief on one side. It stands proudly against a back wall filled with vertical mirrors and three layers of velvet curtains in different sizes. Opposite the bar is a new balcony overlooking a wildflower garden, a great spot to relax with a cocktail before watching a movie. Diners can move to the terrace side of the lounge and sit in one of the loungers with vermillion suede designs positioned between the windows and enjoy a view over the Kunstkerk and the square opposite.

 

modijefsky-de-witt-designboom-full-1

 

Completing the brasserie is a multifunctional event room, ideal for hosting anything from poetry recitals to dance performances. Dark brown and taupe velvet curtains hang worldwide, concealing a door to a kitchen that allows events to be fully catered. Lighting is provided by colored glass hanging lights and the De Witt signature alabaster lights on the walls. The window frames here are darker to better frame the view over the picturesque houses on the other side of the street. ‘It’s the perfect culmination of a collection of carefully designed spaces that will host many unforgettable evenings for the people of Dordrecht,’ concludes Studio Modijefsky. 

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
every corner inside the De Witt Brasserie is visually connected by hanging lights in the shape of cloister arches

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
a film lounge with dark oak tiling

modijefsky-de-witt-designboom-full

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
custom-made boards for movie posters with alabaster sphere lights

studio modijefsky revives dilapidated cinema as all-day brasserie in the netherlands
the bar area has a blue velvet curtain backdrop

modijefsky-de-witt-designboom-full-7
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