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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 252 (228)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 252
Page 252

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 252


factory where the standard type of theatre chair is used. The push-back type of chair usually requires greater row to row spacing to provide for the fore and aft movement.

The Continental Layout

Any radical departure from the conventional arrangement is somewhat hampered by building code restrictions which vary in different sections of the country. Generally, the building code requirements govern the number of chairs allowed in a bank, chair widths, aisle widths, use of cross-over aisles, degree of fioor incline, location and number of exits, size of foyer, and other construction factors directly related to the auditorium layout. Local authorities should always be consulted for code details.

The continental seating layout provides generous row to row spacing and side aisle circulation only. In other words, there is one solid center bank of chairs uninterrupted by conventional aisles except along the wall at each side of the auditorium. The spacing between rows of chairs is 40 inches or more contrasted with the 32 inches usually found in conventional layouts.

Architects have given a great deal of study to the advantages and disadvantages of the continental plan. Its use is generally limited to new theatre buildings with seating capacities up to 1,000 seats. Larger houses usually have to be designed along conventional lines because the continental layout is limited to one bank of chairs. Also, there must always be adequate clearance on both sides of the building for the side exits required.

In the continental plan with only two longitudinal aisles, one along each side

wall, the obstruction of vision caused by

persons walking down the aisles is avoided. The generous spacing between rows helps to improve sight lines and contributes to greater comfort. Each 40-inch space between chair rows becomes a lateral aisle, easing the problem of ingress and egress.

One disadvantage is the loss of seating capacity due to the increased row to row spacing. For example, if the conventional spacing of a EGO-seat house with 32 inches between chair rows is increased to 40 inches, the loss in capacity amounts to 100 seats or a loss of 20 per cent.

In reseating theatres, there is the problem of ventilator and aislelight locations which would have to be changed to take care of the continental layout. In many cases it will be necessary to provide ad ditional exits along the side wall and this, of course, would be impossible without adequate free space outside of the building.


Theatre chairs must be constructed to permit satisfactory installation under all of the varying conditions which occur in the building for which they are intended. Likewise, chairs must be designed to pros vide maximum comfort for the patron during the entire period of occupancy. Obviously, the most satisfactory chair design is based on the human element, the composite or physiological dimensions of

MODERN CHAIR DESIGN offers an economy of space between the rows, without reducing the total number of possible seats in the auditorium. Furiher advantage is the decreased annoyance to seated patrons.

the average human body. The functional requirement is a chair which provides for a normal sitting posture while viewing the motion picture.

As space is a real luxury in the theatre auditorium and because the amount of room between chair rows is directly related to patron comfort, it is desirable to have a chair structure which not only fulfills the basic requirements, but also occupies a minimum amount of space from row to row.

The horizontal and vertical curve of the chair back should conform as closely as possible to the contour of the human body. In other words, the chair back should be broad with only a shallow curvature at the shoulders, narrower and deeper at the waist, and vertically formed to fit the curve of the spine. A chair with this design offers a definite economy of space by providing comfortable support with a back of minimum thickness. The space thus gained allows additional

THE CONTINENTAL SEATING LAYOUT provides generous row to row spacing, although it provides for only side aisle circulation. USe of the plan is generally restricted to new theatres up To 1,000 capacity.


room for stretching and relaxing the legs and increases the passing room between rows.

Although a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the desirability of more room for passing between rows, there is evidence to indicate that ample sitting room is even more important. By installing tabulators or counters on seats in a test house, it was discovered that normally the seated patron is disturbed not more than twice by other persons entering the row during a feature presentation.

This disturbance, however annoying, is measured in only seconds, while the site ting time usually extends into hours. It follows that provision of more actual sitting space is the more important factor with respect to patron comfort. Consequently, the chair design which allows additional knee, leg and foot room between rows without actually increasing the back-to-back spacing contributes directly to more efficient use of space in the auditorium. The additional knee and leg space is not actually gained, however, unless it remains free from obstructions or any rearward movement of the seat or chair directly ahead.

Another design factor affecting comfort is the width of the seat and back. The back should be as close to full chair width as possible with a minimum amount of open space between chair backs in the same row. There should also be a maximum amount of cushion width for a given overall chair width. Chairs with ungainly seat hinges or those with mechanical complications usually require the use of narrower seat cushions, and the comfort factor is reduced accordingly.

Some interest has been developing for the use of tiluxury" chairs 24 inches wide to provide even more comfortable seating ea tendency to transform the theatre auditorium into one large loge section, as it were. Here again, as with the use of 40-inch continental spacing of chair rows, the seating capacity for a given area is reduced and it becomes a matter of judgment for the theatre owner to determine how much of a reduction in seating capacity he can afford, considering, of course, the possible advertising value and drawing power of the luxury-width chair.

It is encouraging to observe that leading theatre architects and chair manufacturers are giving a great deal of thought and study to the functional requirements of the building, the seating, and all of the other equipment components in terms of the individual theatre patron. New buildings are being designed accordingly.

Much can also be done to improve existing theatre auditoriums through more efiicient use of the available seating space and by installing new, comfortable chairs designed to fit the human body. It should be emphasized, however, that every building presents a different set of conditions and special problems which should be analyzed carefully to determine what must be done to obtain the best results. With this in mind, it is always advisable to call in a competent architect and get in touch with an established chair manufacturer for specialized engineering and service on seating.

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 252