The first site visit to Dreamland was my first time visiting Margate so I was unsure what to expect. Expectations had exceeded reality and it was sad to see what had clearly been once and thriving and loved place had now become a run down and almost abandoned seaside town. This could have been that it was January and quite a grim, typically English day but it was clear that Margate was not the town that it has once used to be. On the seafront, an empty beach, a large closed down arcade and the closed down Dreamland Cinema that looked out of place and again a physical reminder that Margate had once been a popular hot-spot to visit.
The exterior of the Dreamland Cinema, with it’s obviously American inspired architectural design stood out against the sea front in a nostalgic way and I was interested to explore inside to start to unveil the story of what it used to be. We had to be accompanied by a member of Thanet District Council as the vacant building belongs to them and to ensure that we were safe in a building that had asbestos filled rooms that were securely closed and we were unable to access.
On entering the building there was something exciting about discovering such an important building to Margate’s history and it was the start of doing a very real and stimulating project. Having my camera with me was beneficial as I was able to focus on specific details that I could later analyse and explore more in depth as there was a lot to take in. As we walked through the hallway past the old foyer of the cinema, we entered the old Bingo Hall, that was almost unchanged apart from the dust filled velvet seats and chairs and the clear abandonment of the place. The stylistic choices of the room felt very 60’s inspired with a pastel green and pink colour panelling circling the walls, a reminder that during the 60’s Margate had been bursting with life and colour.
We made our way upstairs to the vacant Sunshine Cafe which would be our area that we would be focusing on. What struck me first about the space was the natural light from the large windows looking out on the beach framing Margate to be a picturesque seaside town. It was a shame that such a beautiful vacant space was unused and just left to be a reminder of the past.
We separated into three groups to focus on different zones. My group had zone 2 which focused on the stairs and the east side of the space. I took photos, measurements and charcoal rubbings of textures to attempt to record as much as of the space as possible.
We then collaborated sending all measurements and shared all our findings with the other groups so we could start our site surveying drawings.