An exhibition space, Blackbox theatre and concert hall are coming to the shuttered cinema in Siam Square
Lido cinema in Siam Square, which closed its doors last June after 50 years in operation, is getting a new lease of life courtesy of LoveIs Entertainment, which is working with Property Management of Chulalongkorn University (PMCU) to turn it into a modern hub of arts, culture and lifestyle under the name Lido Connect.
“Siam Square is a destination everyone knows and it’s well served by public transport. Lido has been here for more than 50 years, and we have given a lot of thought as to how we can best develop it so that it suits the needs of all lifestyles. We would like this area to be a stage for young people to show off their abilities. Did you know that Nop Ponchamni once busked here but was later banned? We are collaborating with LoveIs to pool our different creative ideas. Bakery Music was set up in Siam Square,” says Assoc Prof Dr Wisanu Subsompon of PMCU, which is responsible for Siam Square and Sam Yan.
“We are determined to offer everyone the chance to show off his or her abilities and to serve as a venue where people can find inspiration and meet their favourite artists,” he continues.
“We are very excited to be a part of this project, not least because Boyd and I have witnessed the development of Siam Square over the last few decades,” adds Thep-ard Kawin-anan, chief executive of LoveIs Entertainment.
“When we were young, there was nowhere we could promote our abilities in music, art or performance. So I was delighted when we were approached to be part of the project.”
Boyd Kosiyabong, the founder of LoveIs, agrees. “Lido holds so many memories. It was here that I saw the movie ‘Jaws’ for the first time. I walked through here every day to get to the Bakery Music offices.
“We will be neutral and welcoming no matter who or what you are. It can be a movie studio, a recording studio or even a church. We would like everyone in this society to make the use of this prime area at student prices. After hearing about this project, I told Wisanu it was really a great idea to open up this prime area to everyone.
“Siam Square has always been a hangout for teenagers and at Bakery Music that helped us to know what kind of music they were listening to and what they were doing. At Dojo City, a subsidiary of Bakery Music, Somkiat Ariyachaipanich kept an eye on the students after school and some of them went on to become the label’s artists. The area is synonymous with innovation and creativity,” he adds.
Lido was officially launched on June 27, 1968, two years after Siam and one year before Scala. A 1,000-seat cinema, it kicked off by screening the British action film “Guns for San Sebastian.” Its name was taken from Le Lido, a cabaret and burlesque on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Fire broke out at the cinema on March 16, 1993 and it was later renovated as a cineplex featuring three theatres with the ground level divided into several shops. But Apex Production’s lease with PMCU came to an end on May 31 last year and the cinema closed its doors, much to the dismay of its many fans.
When Lido Connect reopens, probably as early as this year, those same fans will be delighted to see that the decades-old building will have lost none of its appeal. The university is spending Bt50 million on infrastructure and the developers are adding further Bt30-40 million to give the interior a ’90’s feel.
“I’m really excited about this project,” Prisatorn “Aoo” Sakoonthai, design director of PIA Interior Company told the media during his VTR presentation at the press conference of “Lido: Change to Unchange”.
“We’ve thought long and hard how to renovate the building while maintaining its classic feel. As you all know, Lido was renovated after the fire and became three cinemas. We asked Apex Production’s Nanta Tansajja to borrow the blueprint of the Lido plan. We are sticking to much of the original design but giving it a better look and more utilities.
The first floor is being turned into a “Co-inspiring Space” and will be able to host every type of event.
“We have expanded this public area as a kind of showroom for creators to show off their abilities in what we are calling street events. People waiting for a bus can take a seat and watch the show or activity. This area is the heart of Lido and that makes it a perfect venue for new generation innovators and designers to expose their creations to the public,” the young design director explains.
The second floor will be a “Co-performing Space” and the venue for live performances such as music, performing art, design or even esports. The first theatre is suitable for one-man shows, while the second will serve as a kind of live house. The third is being converted into a blackbox theatre suitable for performing art and talk shows.
“We will keep the original neon sign and the entrance sign and add better lighting and acoustic systems. We will have a Lido shop to provide for all events to be organised here. We would like Lido Connect to be instilled in the collective memory of the new generation,” says Prisatorn.
“Our aim is encourage people to spend their leisure time here watching live performances, concerts and theatre plays.”
Let’s talk Lido
Here’s what a few well-known personalities have to say about the project.
Trisdee “Pizza” na Patalung, classical conductor of Siam Sinfonietta
“I was excited by the presentation. All the areas can be used by different groups in the field of classical music. That’s especially important today with so many small chamber orchestras or new duo emerging on the scene. This place is perfect for them.”
Natasha “Ong” Patamapongs of jazz band Mellow Motif, jazz producer and artist
“We are still a small community in jazz and there are many young groups who want to present their work but lack the stage to do so. Lido is in the right hands.”
Damkerng “Big” Thitapiyasak, artistic director of New Theatre Society
“I am so glad to have this area right in the heart of the city. As Bangkok Theatre Network, we have used everything from restaurants to abandoned buildings for our works. I think that it is a very good space especially the blackbox theatre, which theatre troupes can create their stage.”
Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, director of movies such as “Bad Genius”
“Three cinemas Lido, Siam and Scala are like my school, and I was so sad when I heard that Lido was to be demolished. Now, of course, I’m thrilled to know that Lido is coming back with a new look. It’s going to be a great place for people to work in all categories of arts.”