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Don’t miss these Top 10 Movies made for Architects & Architecture


The cinematic panorama is architecture. Filmmakers use frames to insert people, lives, and feelings into landscapes, houses, and cities. Their connection is undeniable, and the results of this combination can be spectacular in some cases. Architecture interacts with its natural and manmade surroundings; volume, color, and texture choices as well as circulation in and around architecture, all influence the theme of a film to a large extent.

The following is a list of 10 films in which architecture plays an important role in the story or serves as a backdrop to the stories of the people who made it big, “The Architects”.

  1. THE HUMAN SCALE (2012) – People have traditionally moved to cities to improve their quality of life. The Human Scale (2012), a documentary by Andreas Dalsgaard, a Danish writer-director, takes a different approach. It discusses how today’s cities are destroying the quality of life of their residents. It is a documentary on urban planning that takes a human-centered approach to the subject, with a thesis based largely on the ideas of Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl. The film examines several cities from both the global north and south, arguing that city design should focus on people rather than services.

The film is based on the assumption that over half of the world’s population now lives in cities. By 2050, this figure is expected to exceed 80%. With the urban revolution already underway and more than 7 out of 10 people expected to live in cities by 2050, cities and their design will have the greatest impact on people’s lives.

  1. VISUAL ACOUSTICS (2008) – Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, is a documentary about Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose photographs popularized modern architecture in the United States.

Julius Shulman (1910-2009), a photographer best known for his stylish, dynamic studies of mid-century modern Californian architecture by the likes of Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and Pierre Koenig, is the subject of this riveting documentary from 2008. Despite the fact that Shulman is less well-known outside of the photography and architecture scenes than those architects, his widely reproduced images of their structures contributed to their iconic status.

  1. THE COMPETITION (2013) – An honest account of how some of the world’s best architects including design legends Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid, battle it out for the National Museum of Art in Andorra. Architectural competitions, which are nearly as old as the profession itself, became a social, political, and cultural phenomenon during the post-Guggenheim Bilbao building boom. This is the first competition to be documented, producing an unclassifiable piece of art that could be an intense thriller, an ethnographic report, or a cult movie around the icons of contemporary architecture. It took place at the dramatic moment when the real estate bubble became a global crisis.

The film invites us to consider whether this common practice in architecture is appropriate, as it is the only profession in which you must compete so hard and so frequently to bag projects. These dynamics necessitate so much work and extreme conditions that offices and workers are capped, contributing to a constant state of tension within the guild.

  1. KOYAANISQATSI: LIFE OUT OF BALANCE (1982) – This film has only one idea, and it is a simple one. It contrasts nature’s splendor with man’s shambles. It is an impressive visual and acoustic experience, directed by Godfrey Reggio and featuring a beautiful soundtrack by Philip Glass, attempting to alert us to the environmental dangers caused by humans. This acclaimed documentary reveals how humanity has grown apart from nature, taking its title from a Hopi word that means “life out of balance.” The film begins with a lot of footage of natural landscapes and elemental forces and then transitions to a lot of scenes of modern civilization and technology. Due to the lack of narration and dialogue, the production relies solely on imagery and music to convey its message, with many scenes slowed down or sped up for dramatic effect.

We also see the demolition of the Pruit-Igoe Public Housing project in Saint Louis, Missouri, among other landscapes and places from the 1970s. It was long considered a model for urban renewal, having been designed by modernist architect Minoru Yamasaki. Pruit-Igoe, however, fell into disrepair and never recovered due to a lack of political will, a decline in the industrial economy, and rising racism toward this working-class “ghetto.” Its deconstruction also marked the end of modernism.

  1. ARCHICULTURE (2011) – Archiculture is a film that looks at the benefits and drawbacks of teaching architecture. The film follows a group of young students at the Pratt Institute in New York during their final semester. Students’ interactions and reactions help to illustrate the difficulties of being a young aspiring architect in today’s world.

Archiculture examines the architectural studio in a thoughtful, yet critical manner. Through the eyes of a group of students finishing their final design projects, the 25-minute film provides a unique look into the world of studio-based design education. Interviews with leading professionals, historians, and educators help to open up an important dialogue about the key issues that this unique teaching methodology faces as well as the built environment that these future architects will create. 

  1. THE INFINITE HAPPINESS (2015) – The film focuses on Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’ groundbreaking ‘8’ housing development in Copenhagen. Instead of interviewing the architect about his projects and work, filmmakers Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine prefer to follow the lives of the residents of this community as they share their stories and experiences of living in this new space.

The majority of them tell funny and happy everyday stories about birthdays, outdoor activities, Halloween, and family gatherings, while one of them expresses concern about tourists who use this building as a public space. Even in Denmark, sociable housing is a novelty and reveals the significant ideological barrier that 8 seeks to overcome.

The Infinite Happiness is an architectural experience that began as a personal video diary. The film takes us into the heart of a modern housing development that is being hailed as a new model of success.

  1. GIA PENTE DIAMERISMATA KAI ENA MAGAZI! (IN EXCHANGE FOR FIVE APARTMENTS AND ONE SHOP!) (2005) – This documentary focuses on the architectural and social evolution of Athens as depicted in Greek fiction movies (from the oldest Greek fiction film of 1924 to those of 2004). It focuses on the general transformation of Athens’ cityscape as a result of economic and social changes.

The film tells how the “exchange” process transformed the neighborhoods of Greece’s major cities, particularly Athens and Pireus. The process of a landowner making his land available to a building contractor in order for an apartment building (with one or more shops on the ground floor) to be constructed is known as “exchange.” The landowner will receive a number of apartments and a shop for his own use upon completion of the construction, while the contractor will receive the remainder of the apartments and shops, hence the title “In Exchange for Five Apartments and One Shop.”

This process, which is still widely used today, drastically altered the landscape of Athens, transforming neighborhoods of rooftop houses into multi-story high buildings.

The Introduction, The Age of Innocence, The Explosive Adolescence, The Adulthood, and the Epilogue are the five thematic sections of the architectural and sociological journey.

  1. GRAN HORIZONTE: AROUND THE DAY IN 80 WORLDS – (2013) “Gran Horizonte: Around the Day in 80 Worlds” is a non-narrative documentary film depicting a typical day across the urbanized world organized thematically and chronologically. Its perspective shifts between the built environment and the social dynamics that give cities their life, eventually returning to the horizon line as a unifying physical and imaginary form.

It’s a movie project where Urban-Think Tank tells the reality of informal urbanity around the world from New Delhi to Bogota, structured in an unreal world trip in one day, using material collected over three years. This film is based on the belief that collaboration between architects, governments, private enterprises, and the global slum population is the key to the future of urban development.

  1. KOCHUU (2003) – This visually stunning film features interviews with Pritzker Prize winners Tadao Ando and Sverre Fehn, as well as Toyo Ito about modern Japanese architecture rooted in Japanese tradition and its impact on the Nordic building tradition. Designers have created a fantastic exploration of contemporary to resolve the conflict between modern man and ancient philosophies.

The film explains how contemporary Japanese architects strive to unite the ways of modern man with old philosophies in astounding constructions, winding its way through visions of the future and traditional concepts, nature and concrete, gardens, and high-tech spaces. The Japanese term KOCHUU, which means “in the jar,” refers to the practice of creating small, enclosed physical spaces that give the impression of a separate universe. The film depicts key aspects of traditional Japanese architecture, such as blurring the line between outside and inside, disrupting the symmetrical, using wooden posts and beams instead of walls, modular construction techniques, and a symbiotic relationship with water, light, and nature.

  1. Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio (2010) – Mockbee Samuel, a true pioneer who defended the idea that “everyone deserves a shelter for the soul,” is honored in “Citizen Architects.” Mockbee, an Auburn University professor, created a Rural Studio, a design, and construction of the teaching of the profession of architecture’s social responsibilities while also providing a safe and well-built home, an inspiration for the rural communities of West Alabama, one of America’s poorest regions.

Mockbee’s effort to provide students with an experience that will forever inspire them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities is explored in Citizen Architect. The documentary is guided by passionate, frank, and never-before-seen interviews with Mockbee himself, revealing the philosophy and heart behind the Rural Studio.

Jay Sanders, a young, first-time instructor at the Rural Studio, leads a group of students through the process of designing a home for their charismatic client, Jimmie Lee Matthews. Jimmie Lee, dubbed Music Man in the community for his love of soul music, maintains a healthy zest for life, blasting R&B from his vast collection of used stereos and boasting that he “ain’t never met a stranger!”

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