After four years of bureaucratic wrangling, the Scala at London’s King’s Cross is refurbished and ready to reopen on Saturday offering a “multi-dimensional experience”. This long-established venue started life as the King’s Cross Cinema in 1920. Since then it has operated as the Odeon, a Primatarium, and the Scala Cinema Club until it went into receivership after illegally screening Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Club promoter Sean McLusky is the brains behind the venue’s latest incarnation. A drummer with the band Speedway, McLusky worked with architectural collective Fashion Architecture Taste on the relaunch of Paddocks club as the Leisure Lounge in 1994. He sees the Scala as a nightclub and art space and brought in FAT to create spatial concepts. The identity was created by Martin Tickner of design group Workers’ Council.
The building is divided into a foyer bar with DJ decks, lounge area, main dance room with stage, glass-walled bar, restaurant area and VIP room. Some of the original features remain, such as the black and white mosaic flooring and the light fittings in the dance room, and the number of floors means there is still a reminder of the original tiered seating. “We haven’t done much damage,” says McLusky. “We wanted to keep it timeless, something that would wear in nicely.”
There is lots of natural light wood and the walls of each area are painted in a single bold flat colour – blue, red, grey, brown and orange. The spaces dictated the colours, says McLusky; some of the corridors and stairways are deep red with red flooring and lighting. This is meant to make people feel uncomfortable and deter them from loitering. And the newness of the interiors has been tempered with second-hand Seventies furniture – such as squishy leather armchairs for the lounge area.
The whole building – when it is empty – has a feeling of space and clean lines. During the night, when it is packed full of clubbers, the aesthetics may not be so obvious. Then, perhaps, the best place to be is the old projection room, with views of the dance floor, which is being turned into the VIP area. And for really important VIPs, the, as yet unconverted, cupola at the very top of the building with views to St Paul’s Cathedral might be the answer.
The Scala at 275 Pentonville Road, London N1, reopens on Saturday 20 March