Under threat – Cinelandia
By Pieter A. van Stuivenberg, Willemstad, Curaçao, 1941

Docomomo International became aware by Docomomo Curaçao that the government of Curaçao ordered the demolition within the next month of Cinelandia building, one of the most important Modern Movement monument in the island, instead of forcing its restoration or reconstruction.

Designed by the dutch architect Pieter A. van Stuivenberg, Cinelandia was built in 1941 in the historic district Punda of Willemstad city. At the time it was built, with its 2200 seats for visitors, it was the largest open-air movie theater in the region. Also designed by Van Stuivenberg, one month after the opening of Cinelandia in Punda, in the Otrabanda district was opened the West End cinema – smaller, more luxurious and covered and thus intended for the more affluent citizens of Willemstad. Built in reinforced concrete, Cinelandia’s architectural style is not nearly as exuberant as the Art Deco in the Netherlands. With the round shapes, wooden doors with panels and glass bricks, the style is more reminiscent of the Amsterdam School, and mostly inspired by the so-called Miami Beach Art Deco of the 1930s.

Once a well-known cinema on the island, in mid-1983, mostly because of the upcoming videoshops, Cinelandia as well as WestEnd closed. West End was demolished in 2000 and Cinelandia is vacant ever since. Neglected for many years by the owner and the government, it has been in a very dilapidated state for years and is in advanced state of degradation, namely what concerns the concrete structure of the main building.

Since the 1990s there have been regular discussions about the future of the building. Cinelandia has already had and lost a protected status twice, being since 2011 a protected monument. The Fundashon Pro Monumento (ProMo) advocates the preservation and restoration of the building. Indeed, ProMo did want to contribute to a construction in which a demolition permit could be granted under the condition of reconstruction of the monumental part of Cinelandia – the front facade. It also has been active doing extensive suggestions preserving Cinelandia, however according to the Curaçao Minister of Traffic, Trasnport and Spatial Planning,  the former cinema poses a further risk of collapse for the immediate vicinity, and therefore it must be demolished. Also the owner, trading company CMOG, wants to demolish the cinema and use the site for new construction.

As iconic building of the Modern Movement and the only Art Deco building of its kind in Willemstad and on the island, Docomomo International is willing to raise awareness  for the preservation and restoration of Cinelandia due to its architectural-historical, cultural-historical and monumental values.

A detailed description of the building can be read on the following pdf.
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