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New life at the Duplex Cinema: from being the first multiplex in Madrid to becoming avant-garde and luxury lofts

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EL MUNDO has crept inside this property, where ten floors have been built looking for tenants

The lobby, with the ancient marble staircase.

The oldest neighbors of the General Oráa street will still remember when they walk next to the number 67 that the first multiplex cinema in Madrid was housed there, the Duplex Cinema . And with nostalgia they will remember how that big screen that became popular for projecting minicycles of the Marx brothers, the Woody Allen, the Marilyn Monroe, the Orson Wells o of 007 by Sean Connery passed away when the decline of the neighborhood cinema began … Today, although it is not the same, its essence remains alive in the avant-garde and luxury lofts that have just been raised under its structure.

In search of what it was and what it has become, THE WORLD has sneaked into this building from the middle of the last century, where modernity plays a perfect balance with classicism who wore the cinema back in the 70s.

The two rooms that used to exist, with their stalls, have been transformed into 10 duplex homes, practically open plan, high-rise and where light streams in through gigantic windows. The old warehouse, in the basement, is today a modernist garage dressed in neon lights, plus several storage rooms. And the wall on which the screens rested will be, when the project is 100% completed, a vertical garden that will cover the green areas of common use that were formerly covered by the great dome of the cinema.

Enrique Oliete in one of the lofts facing the wall where the screen was.
Enrique Oliete in one of the lofts facing the wall where the screen was.

The arched entrance in blue and gold letters that characterized the old room is now a black paneled door from which you can see the lobby, converted into a luminous portal. There, led lights, furniture with straight lines and colored details merge with the only old element that has remained in the project, the black marble staircase and wrought iron and wood railing which used to lead to the stalls and today gives access to the houses. A piece with history that has been restored and that stands out in this space among others winks to the world of cinema: a large curtain reminiscent of the old theater curtains, some doors that hide the installation rooms in the shape of a film reel …

The entrance to the old Duplex cinema.
The entrance to the old Duplex cinema.E. M.
The entrance to the cinema, today.
The entrance to the cinema, today.

“With the conversion of a cinema into homes there are many changes and it is difficult to keep original elements“, says Enrique Oliete, the project management director of Mazabi -the company that owns the building-, who explains that the houses, despite their modernity,” have a stately part, with very careful details “and” quality finishes ” . “It is the concept of the neighborhood (Salamanca, where it is) but adapted to the 21st century”, resume.

More than 20 years closed

At the beginning of the 2000s, the Dúplex cinema, which became the headquarters of the National Film Library, closed its doors, overwhelmed by the rise of the large theaters that were opening on the outskirts of the capital. Like so many others. The Italian investor Cesare Passi acquired the property and in 2007 began the paperwork (not easy) to change the use of the building to build a housing development. Although the rumor spread that the old cinema could be converted into a supermarket in the face of bureaucratic obstacles, ten years later, the wealth management company Mazabi, which bought the property , completed the project started by Passi by the hand of the Espirea construction company, and with the design of the architect Miguel Gutierrez-Ambrossi, giving it the shape of a duplex-loft.

Oliete, in another of the houses, with avant-garde design.
Oliete, in another of the houses, with avant-garde design.

Today, the building has eight symmetrical houses over eight meters high that overlook a 150 meter inner courtyard (four of them with private terrace), plus another two that look at General Oráa. They all have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the corridors that connect them are adorned with paintings by Fernando de Ana, to give it “that cultural touch” that comes from the cinema.

The development “is well located and close to everything,” says Oliete, who is targeting young single workers or couples without children as his future neighbors. Futures because the houses, although they have been built for about two years (just before the pandemic), have just begun to be marketed. Nevertheless, the fate of Lofts Salamanca -the official name of the promotion- is yet to be decided, according to the CEO of Mazabi, Juan Antonio Gutiérrez, who points to two plans.

One of the lofts facing General Oráa.
One of the lofts facing General Oráa.

The first involves selling the property as a whole to an investor (it is for sale for about nine million euros). According to the company, the property “has long aroused great interest “ by the main tourist rental and corporate accommodation operators operating in Spain, so they could be in charge of its operation.

Plan B is for Mazabi to directly rent the loft to tenants (for about 3,000 euros of furnished facilities and services including water, electricity, Wi-Fi or 2,500 without the latter covered). If this finally comes out, “we have projects to thematize all the houses and give continuity in them to the world of cinema, “adds Oliete in this sense. An opportunity for those who long for the old theater.

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