Lucy Campbell and Barbara Opar,
Column by Lucy Campbell
In July of 2017 a question from
Rebecca Price, Architecture, Urban Planning & Visual Resources Librarian at
the University of Michigan, initiated a lively debate amongst AASL members. Can
you name some movies that in some way foreground architecture? The connection
between film and architecture is well documented. Architect Juhani Pallasmaa
has discussed how the great directors use architectural imagery to create
emotional states, and publications such as Dietrich
Neumann’s Film Architecture remind us that set design is in fact a form
of architecture. Colleagues immediately began looking
beyond the obvious choices (The Fountainhead) to suggest both fun and factual
titles with overt tones of the discipline. The movies listed here represent
twenty-first century titles and are only a fraction of those suggested. For
film buffs interested in the intersection of these two artistic pursuits, these
ten may be a good start.
My Architect: A Son’s Journey
(2003). In this academy award nominated documentary Louis Kahn’s son Nathaniel
explores his father’s legacy.
24 City (2008). This Cannes Festival
Palme d’Or submission follows the transition of a Chinese state-owned factory
to a modern apartment complex.
My Playground (2010). Blends together the
worlds of architecture and parkour to provide a fresh perspective on urban
space and how we use it.
Fictional Portrayal of an Architect
The Architect (2016). This comedy follows a
couple’s quest to build their dream home while battling against their
stereotypically egotistical, uncompromising, modernist architect.
(2015). Based on JG Ballard’s dystopian novel, High-Rise details the descent
into chaos of a luxury tower block designed to meet every human need. Meanwhile
the project’s architect observes from his penthouse suite.
2049 (2017). Building on the 1982 original, this sequel depicts a
dystopian world of vertical mega-structures and architectural ruins.
Russian Ark (2002). Filmed entirely in St.
Petersburg’s Winter Palace, a single 96 minute Steadicam shot follows a ghostly
narrator as he wanders the elegant hallways.
(2009). The climactic shoot out scene takes place in Frank Lloyd Wright’s
exquisite Guggenheim Museum. A unique way to experience this New York building.
Architecture Should be More
(2015). Starchitect Bjarke Ingels uses his skills as a cartoonist to argue
architects should imitate players in the bestselling videogame Minecraft and
use imagination to build our world.
Mumbai: Maximum City
Under Pressure (2014). Using Mumbai as a case study, this film
explores the informal city and examines critical issues impacting urban spaces
while asking what architects can do to help.
Since 1995 AASL has maintained a list of Core
Periodicals inArchitecture. This discussion prompted interest among some
members in building a similar list for film and architecture. Although in early
stages, we may continue this initiative by addressing additional topics in
future columns, for example black and white movies, or the silent era. If you
have an interest in this area, or recommendation for AASL please email Lucy
Campbell at email@example.com.