Bluehaus Group designs steam punk-themed cinema in Dubai


The Dome Box Cinema in Dubai, designed by Bluehaus Group, takes visitors to the future through minimalistic interior design, dynamic colour effects and a mixture of elegance and machinery.

The Dome Box Dubai, the region’s first 360-degree cinema, recently opened within Meraas’ Box Park development.

The movie theatre was conceptualised as a time machine, taking visitors on a journey of discovery to places in different time and space dimensions – like the inside of a tree, the African steppe and outer space. Design motifs reflecting the ‘time machine’ were dominate both the interior and exterior architecture of The Dome Box.



“We aimed to create a very immersive and engaging audio-visual experience, in which viewers will actually feel they are in the middle of the storylines unfolding around them,” says Jean Marc Bled, general manager at Meraas. “We wanted visitors to experience what time travel might actually feel like.

“We believe that the project’s interior design plays an integral role in enriching the overall visitor experience. Each step of the journey – from the moment they enter The Dome Box to the moment they exit – was carefully planned and designed to augment the time travel experience. The glazed front facade of The Dome Box ensures that even before they enter the concept, visitors can visualise the time machine in the form of a giant dome.”


Dubai-based consultancy firm Bluehaus Group carried out architecture, interior design and MEP work.

Cogwheels, rusty pipes, valves and other elements that exude an industrial feel are interspersed throughout the interior – gears embedded on the floor, illuminated gear sets on the ceiling, as well as the pipes and metallic doors into the actual dome – all of which surround visitors with a mechanistic and industrial environment.


Ben Corrigan, CEO of Bluehaus Group says: “The initial client brief and design concept for The Dome Box was built and developed around time travel; hence the blend between a futuristic Dome that has fallen out of space and old steam engines. A contrast of old and new. The interior is designed to offer visitors a combination of ‘hints’ of clock gears hanging from the ceiling, scattered parts of watches integrated into the floor and the ‘revealed’ areas of The Dome that show steam engine pipes in a rustic and 3D finish.”

The ‘pre-show’ area offers an introduction to the experience yet to come within The Dome and takes visitors to the future through minimalistic design and dynamic colour effects.


Within The Dome, the space is designed to be flexible accommodating removable leaning bars and bean bags so that visitors can enjoy the experience of the 360 degree cinema.

According to Corrigan, the project was designed using 100% BIM (Revit) modelling across architectural, interior design and MEP, which was essential for producing construction drawings with the required level of detailing and also managing the coordination across the different competencies.


He adds: “The specialist lighting design plays an important role in achieving the experience, attracting visitors and highlighting The Dome internally through several scenes and also externally; both to bring the external façade to life as well as drawing the eye to the experience within. The lighting programming was done through lighting simulation software coordinated with the experience within.

One of the challenges of this project was the coordination of the various unique competencies. The Dome itself is a unique product from the United States made up of independent panels, which needed to be integrated into the space with the box enveloping The Dome.”


Corrigan explains that another challenge was to ensure The Dome Box not only worked in harmony with the surrounding Box Park development, but enhanced the development whilst having its own identity to ensure it was prominent, recognisable and attractive.

“The illusion of space and time was key to the success of this project and the idea that The Dome Box is an independent structure to that of the surrounding box,” says Corrigan. “This was achieved by drawing the eye up to the top of The Dome and to the cogs surrounding The Dome with the use of lighting. Some of our favourite features are the flooring and wall cladding, where sections of a watch workings have been integrated and recessed into the flooring in steel, whilst the walls have steam engine pipes designed in 3D to offer a themed experience throughout the space.


The cogs suspended from the ceiling have also turned out very nicely and offer a level of depth and scale, especially at night with the lighting.”

Commenting on visitors’ reaction, Bled says that the younger visitors particularly get excited by their journey across time and space.

He says: “Older visitors also appreciate the level of planning and detailing that has gone into developing the overall design. Some visitors have shared with us that they felt like they were inside a theme park, even before purchasing tickets to see a movie.


Visitors also love our attention to detail that can be seen in the designs of the staff uniforms as well as the food and beverage stands that are quirky – setting the mood for visitors to enjoy a truly unique experience at The Dome Box.”

At specific intervals throughout the day, visitors can also witness The Dome Box signage in the front facade come to life, with the cogwheels spinning and the pipes spewing steam.

A lot of care was taken to design the staff uniforms as well in order to amplify the adventurous theme: staff are dressed in khaki clothing, bandanas and braces to add to the ambience.


All aspects of the interior design, including these subtle details, make for an enticing atmosphere to get visitors’ minds buzzing with curiosity and fascination for the excitement under the dome.

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