7th September 2012 - updated 20th September 2012

Huge 3D projection mapping show will demolish
IMAX waterfront building
and open Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival 2012

The IMAX Building
Response from Leader of Bournemouth Council, Cllr John Beesley

I appreciate that in the wave of euphoria following the recent 2012 Olympic Games there is a groundswell of support for enhancing Britain's sporting facilities. However, Bournemouth is already well provided with public swimming pools there are three within the Borough, at the Littledown Centre, Stokewood Road, and the newly purchased and reconstructed Pelhams Park Leisure Centre, all of which are now operated by BH Live. Unfortunately, none of these run without public subsidy, and in the current economic climate our focus must be on using Bournemouth Council's scarce resources to support these existing facilities rather than to create new ones.

I can fully understand the desire of some people to see the return of a swimming complex to the town centre, but our recent experience shows that town centre swimming facilities have not enjoyed the level of support that might be expected. You may be aware that the Bournemouth International Centre originally included a swimming pool, but this was not well used by residents or visitors and operated at a considerable loss. This was closed by the previous administration in order to make way for improved conference and exhibition facilities after much debate.

Turning to the Imax itself, the Council undertook a comprehensive public consultation in March 2010 to establish what future uses the public wanted for this building. Overall people gave their support for performing arts, an amphitheatre, tropical gardens, water park, interactive arts, museum and entertainment.

We approached the market for suitable leisure operators in summer 2011 but unfortunately none of the bids that came forward satisfied the requirements of the public consultation. Since then we have looked at all the potential alternative funding sources and the risks of any long-term delay to the development of the site.

The cost of demolition and the development of the performance space will be close to £2 million. It is extremely unlikely that conversion of the existing building would be a practical alternative and would in any case be hugely expensive, very substantially more than the £4 million suggested in your email. We simply cannot afford any more than £2 million in total and in the current market such schemes are just not fundable through the private sector and we should not expect to be able to buck the national trend. That situation will not change for the foreseeable future and so the Council has had to look hard at the alternatives.

Against this background, we have taken the decision to demolish the existing building this autumn in order to create a new outdoor events area which can host a variety of events including music, dance and theatre performances, community and sporting events which is in line with the results of the consultation. The process has involved Bournemouth Councillors on a cross-party basis so that we can go forward representing all shades of Councillor opinion across Bournemouth.

This is an interim proposal and the Bournemouth Development Company will be considering comprehensive plans for the development of the wider area when the leisure market is buoyant enough to progress an acceptable scheme. It is possible that these future plans could include some sort of water-based attraction, but I would not anticipate that this will be a swimming pool in the traditional sense.

There are no easy alternatives but I am confident that we shall achieve much more for the residents and visitors to Bournemouth by being realistic, even though we cannot have everything we want immediately.

Cllr John Beesley
Leader of Bournemouth Council

Media release - Thursday, 6th September 2012

On Saturday, 29th September 2012, a spectacular virtual demolition of the IMAX building will be projected onto the facade of the building itself - signifying the end of the building's life, marking the beginning of the deconstruction phase and the start the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival.

Members of the public can gather at Pier Approach to see the fusion of imagery and music at 9.15pm on Saturday, 29th September 2012, or watch the display streamed online.

'The Secret Incident', created by digital arts collective seeper, will be a once-in-a-lifetime show with specially commissioned and breath-taking 3D projection mapping, lighting, animation, music and sound effects on a huge scale, culminating in the 'disappearance' of one of England's most disliked structure, the IMAX Waterfront building.

Councillor John Beesley, Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council, said: "Nothing like this on such a large scale has ever been done before in Bournemouth. I am sure it will be a memorable moment that many local people, who have repeatedly told us how much they hate the building, will want to see. The Council is delighted to be able to bring this event to Bournemouth. 'The Secret Incident' will signify the beginning of the end for the IMAX building and is the precursor to an ongoing, exciting events programme on the Waterfront site. It's also set to be a thrilling climax to the 2012 Arts by the Sea Festival opening."

Following the projection, works will begin on site in October to prepare for the dismantling of the building. The new Waterfront events space, which has now been granted planning approval, will be open for Summer 2013 and available to host theatre and arts performances, music and dance, sports and community events.

A live webcam will be in situ during the dismantling works for people who would like to see the progress on site and watch as the sea views are gradually restored. To view the webcam live (from 29th September), or for any other information about the project, please visit: www.bournemouth.gov.uk/waterfront


The decision to grant planning permission for the new Waterfront outdoor events space was given under delegated powers on Wednesday 5 September. Less than ten objections to the application were received during the consultation period.

This large-scale multi-sensory and site-responsive experience is designed and produced by seeper, one of the world's leading arts and technology collectives.

For full details of the Council's Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival please visit: