The First 360-Degree Cinema in Europe will Open…. in Plymouth

Work has begun on what is to be Europe’s first ever 360-degree cinema hall. The setting for this ambitious project is the Devonport Market Hall in Plymouth. Developers expect the £7million project to be complete by the end of 2019. The 360-degree immersive cinema dome is part of a bigger project aimed at transforming the derelict Grade II listed Market Hall limestone and granite building into a hub for “immersive technology”.

After completion, it will allow up to 150 people to undergo an immersive cinematic experience at a go in a virtual reality setting. Constructed as an aluminium mesh, the cinematic dome will allow sound and video to be projected from the outside. Even if the floor itself will be flat with a 210-degree wraparound, it will still provide an impression of someone being in a 360-degree virtual space, reminiscent of the 360 dome options that are beginning to pop up.

The developers of the project, Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), are proposing the development as a place where people will watch sport events, cultural shows, as well as dance and music. The virtual reality set is also being touted as a one-of-a-kind setting for parties and weddings. To prove a real attraction as a go-to place, the development will include a public bar, complete with a classic wood fire oven, adjoining the cinema dome. A set of private or function rooms will be added too.

RIO is pulling all stops to make the experience of the virtual reality dome as replicating of reality as possible. The video and audio will be augmented by other sensations including smells, heat and subtle lighting. This is in order to give the audience as much of a sensation of being in the middle of the action. Calling it a “better version of going to the cinema”, ROI has insisted that right from the off, the showpiece project is designed to be open to the public and accessible for use by everyone from Plymouth.

Documents filed with the planning department of Plymouth City Council reveal the heights of ambition the developers are aspiring to. Other than refurbishing the aging hall to include the immersive dome, the developers are looking to build extensions in the adjoining property to accommodate utilities such as a kitchen, modern office block, winter garden, amenity spaces, winter garden, and exhibition space.

To find a project of similar scope and magnitude as this ROI initiative in Plymouth, one has to go to North America. To keep abreast of cutting-edge standards in the industry, the developers have been working closely with Canadian company Societe des Arts Technologique (SAT). SAT has built and operates a successful immersive video dome called Satosphere in Montreal.

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