Screen Idol

Situated in the Alpine town of Ilanz in Switzerland's Canton Graubünden, Cinema Sil Plaz breathes life into the community cultural scene.The independent cinema was set up by two local architects, Ramun Capaul and Gordian Blumenthal, who went about transforming the space for movie lovers using local materials. The concept was to have a welcoming interior, a bar that allows moviegoers to linger and a stage for bands to perform. Monocle, 2011

boy sitting infront cinema

“Twenty years ago, the last cinema in the valley closed and out of its ashes the film club was founded,” says Capaul. “ We were looking for places to screen movies-we have even used the town hall.” When a space in the town center was freed up, the architects got a break for a permanent venue.

wine glass and book

The perfect spot to enjoy a carafe of wine and read a book in the afternoon.

woman in pink dress on screen


“For us, the architecture has to support the medium of film and vice versa,”says Capaul, leaning against the club's immaculate secondhand Kinoton 35mm projector.

chairs in cinema

Why it works? Sensory perception. The smell of aged leather and natural wood are a welcome change to cheap fabrics used in theatre upholstery.

Porthole view of auditorium

Porthole view of auditorium. Rammed earth, a sustainable ans low-tech building technique, was used to make floor, walls and ceiling. “We researched a lot of materials and found it inexpensive, better than concrete for acoustics, and it regulates the humidity in the theatre,” says Blumenthal.

women sitting at a table

Bands perform on a raised wooden stage that on movie nights is furnished with vintage tables and chairs from Swiss firms such as Horgenglarus and it's moviegoers chat and nibble on snacks.

view of screen

Audience's view of the screen. The studio of architects Ramun Capaul and Gordian Blumenthal is conducting research into traditional building techniques used in Alpine homes in Canton Graubünden, especially in the valleys of the Surselva.


The most ingenious creation is the upstairs bar and after screening patrons linger well past midnight imbibing the local Graubünden pinot noir, Appenzeller beer and fizzy fruit drinks from nearby Misox Valley.

Projectionist's room

In the projectionist's room, a sliding steel partition opens to reveal a workspace in pristine pine with a porthole view onto the auditorium.

glass of beer

Audiences aren't likely to find much in common between Cinema Sil Plaz and the modern multiplex, even if unintended. “We're next door to the church, so sometimes there's a dramatic moment in the movie and the bells start ringing. We can't do anything about it.”

bar stools

Steel and oak bar and stools. The elongated steel bar with oak countertop sits in narrow slits in the concrete floor and can be lifted up and moved when the upstairs space is rearranged to host concerts.

two architects standing

“In the beginning, theatres were these public, opulent places that people used as meeting points. When you think about cinema today, you have the black box and that's it. Our take was a bit different. We said, let's have a space where you can feel the materials, smell the wood.” Capaul and Blumenthal architects.

espresso standing on a bartable

Soothing earth tones in place of the black and dark blues common to cinema interiors.