Built at the end of the 1920s and transformed in the 1950s, the Capitole is the largest historic cinema in Switzerland. This architectural jewel, a unique example of the golden age of film theatres, is now undergoing major renovation and expansion works launched by the City of Lausanne. Once its original splendour has been restored, this emblematic site will become the new Maison du Cinéma, a veritable flagship for the Cinémathèque suisse. See you in 2024 for the reopening of this mythical place in cinematic history!
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The façade of the Capitole and the neon sign (2019) © Nicolas Prahin
A historical monument
Inaugurated on 29 December 1928, the Capitole cinema-theatre has witnessed every revolution. At the cutting edge of comfort in its early days, during the silent film era, it was constantly redesigned to keep up with the competition, technically, decoratively and architecturally, gradually changing from 1,077 to 869 seats. Bought in 2010 by the City of Lausanne from Lucienne Schnegg, the Capitole has since been managed by the Cinémathèque suisse. Until December 2019, the Cinémathèque suisse successfully organised its major film events there, bringing together a very large audience, in particular during ciné-concerts, previews, presentations of restored films in the presence of filmmakers and film personalities, and school sessions.
The renovation project
This ambitious renovation project is in keeping with the institution's mission to safeguard the heritage of this exceptional monument, a necessary action in a country where a large number of its historic halls have disappeared.
The renovation project begun in 2020, led by the City of Lausanne and architecum, the winner of the call for projects, will notably enable the existing architectural and decorative elements to be brought up to standard and restored, and a second hall to be built. Built under the parterre, this 140-seat room will have its own reception area, where some of the iconographic collections kept at the Cinémathèque suisse can be exhibited digitally.
New public spaces
In addition to a café on the ground floor at street level, the first floor will be transformed into a bookshop dedicated to cinema and a media library will offer visitors the possibility of consulting and viewing the digital collections of the the Cinémathèque suisse. This multimedia space will be the urban and public counterpart of the Research and Archiving Centres based in Penthaz and Zurich, and will showcase the institution's very rich collection by making it more widely accessible.