"On the face of it, a quayside in Southampton Docks is not the obvious place to put a cinema. Seaside buildings are traditionally outward-looking, with big windows from which to scan the distant horizon. But a cinema is essentially a windowless box. Cinema auditoriums are often embedded in the densly packed buildings of a city centre. Only the main entrance and foyer are visible to the passers-by in the street. Burrell Foley Fischer therefore faced two main problems right from the start: how to relate the spaces within the building to the surroundings, and how to give an isolated, windowless box a suitably elegant and eye-catching image.
The key to the solution of the first problem was the foyer. It might be impossible to relate the internal spaces of the auditoriums to their surroundings, but at least the foyer could benefit from the view of the sea, sky and boats. The practice therefore decided to place it on the side of the buildings facing the water. But is went further than that. In the absence of a well-defined public space such as a high street, the architect provided its own public space in the form of a raised platform sloping down from the foyer to the dockside. This could be used for street theatre performances and outside film screenings on summer evenings. In this way, the building would make the most of the positive qualities of the site and give something back for the public's benefit. Site and building would combine to make a new, special place.