a cinematic-inspired renovation of a victorian home

inspired by the cinema world, MCA forms reel house in colorado

located in Coloradothe Reel House sees the sweeping renovation of a Victorian two-story home, offering a modern take on a timeless classic. Inspired by the client’s profession in cinematography, the project by MCA (Matteo Cainer Architects) was designed to capture the essence of the cinematic experience, characterized by excitement, surprise, emotion and lighting techniques. To achieve this, the design team focused on three main elements, the projector, reels, and film strip, as the primary architectural language, resulting in a unique and innovative design that embodies the spirit of the silver screen.

‘As a conceptual approach, we pursued the architectural strategy of ‘nesting’ which gave us the opportunity to design and develop the project from within, as if a ‘film within a film’. By slowly deconstructing and understanding the ‘magic’ behind the camera, we designed a project that curates a cohesive and evolving dialogue between the interior of the house and the beautiful back garden,’ explained the architects. Thus, through the artistic means of light, reflections, and transparency, a symbiotic relationship between architecture, the act of living, and nature itself was re-established.

the reel house takes shape in colorado: a cinematic-inspired renovation of a victorian home
garden view, all images by MCA

achieving an effortless fluidity throughout the house

Each cinematic element has been decoded and translated into the architectural design, creating a unique approach in the Reel House. The main social gathering area, which takes the shape of a spacious circular sunken living room, embodies the ‘reel’ that holds and delivers the film to the public. Through sliding glass doors, a holistic indoor-outdoor living experience is created, where nature, light, and social exchanges can be relished.

The ‘projector,’ a more mechanical and concealed device, is architecturally represented by the private and intimate functions of the house. Meanwhile, the photographic ‘film strip,’ which contains light-sensitive silver halide crystals, is embodied by the sinuous wall that blurs the boundaries between public and private spaces, creating a hierarchy and seamless fluidity throughout the house. This design approach by MCA (see more here) also establishes a graceful conversation between the interior spaces and the lush outside scenery, using mirrors, transparencies, and framed views to create a unique and unexpected experience.

the reel house takes shape in colorado: a cinematic-inspired renovation of a victorian home
the spacious sunken living room represents the ‘reel’

The design concept extends to the rest of the house, including a new spiral wooden staircase and circular bathroom on the second floor and an oval, fully equipped projection room in the basement. However, it is most prominent in the garden, where the vegetation and outdoor functions merge together seamlessly, creating a fluid sequence of colors, spaces, materiality and biodiversity.

Floral plants, bushes, and fruit-bearing trees take center stage, establishing a harmonious dialogue with the interior that mutates with the changing seasons. According to the team, the garden confesses mysterious magic, as if one is looking at a living, breathing motion picture. Every function of the design contributes to a cohesive whole, allowing the viewer to admire how nature and light become the true protagonists of this conceptual cinematic living experience.

the reel house takes shape in colorado: a cinematic-inspired renovation of a victorian home

through sliding glass doors, the living room seamlessly integrates with the exterior patio

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