This work is based on the assumption that it is possible to achieve sustainable development by preserving the twentieth century heritage. Modern European cinemas were especially vulnerable to the passing of time: in a few decades buildings with tremendous socio-cultural importance became obsolete structures in cities. This research into cinema theatre design in Western Europe during the period 1910-1939 is based on articles on cinema design published in leading architectural periodicals, using the information they contain to trace the history of the cinemas which had the greatest influence on the development of this building type in Europe. Chapters II and III focus on the theoretical and technical approaches to cinema building and aim to synthesise the ideas discussed at the time. They represent a study of the emergence of cinema as an autonomous architectural programme and how this building type was developed. The final chapters concern the abandonment of cinema theatres, which has resulted in a number of public demonstrations calling for the function of these buildings as cultural venues to be maintained and for their physical conservation. Unlike the usual nostalgic approach, an objective study of the conversion processes for these buildings enables conversion patterns to be identified. A significant number of the buildings in the study were demolished or gutted as a result of speculative financial ventures, while others were reused. The ultimate purpose of this thesis is to understand the aspects on which the life cycle of a cinema theatre and its permanence in the urban fabric depend, even if it serves a different function.