10 great films for architecture fans

10 film recommendations for architecture fans

As wonderful as a few weeks of binge watching all the obligatory Christmas classics can be, you may find yourself needing to switch up this genre from time to time. Chances are that if you have found yourself reading this article, you have a keen appreciation for architecture and the urban landscape. This article is a collation of 10 films recommended by AKKA Architects for their unique architectural perspective. These are not only worth watching for their immersive aesthetic value but also because of their thought-provoking social commentary. In this article, we do not focus on a synopsis for each film (such information is easy to find), instead we have interviewed our architects and share here their insights about the significance of architecture in the films.

10 fantastic films any architecture-lover would enjoy watching over the holidays

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis is a silent, black and white film produced in Germany during the Weimar period. It holds its place in cinematic history as a pioneer of futuristic film. Its set design reflects the huge leap in technological progress that took place in the interwar period. For example, the 3-dimensional elements used to create the set of the main shopping street features a building at an impressive scale of 1:16 to the real heights. From an architectural perspective, the visual effects created with such highly intricate large-scale models is reason enough to experience this foundational film.

[Image: Tumblr, 1Bohemian]

Metropolis film
Highrise (2015)
highrise film

Highrise is a kind a psychological thriller. A unique and intriguing aspect to this film rests on how the set design is used as a character in itself. The film captures the tension between society and the way we use architecture, interrogating who is allowed where and why, and questioning exactly who has access to what kind of housing. Highrise artistically demonstrates how social status and the economy directly affects the architecture around us, not only aesthetically but also in the ways in which one is permitted to use it.

[Image: John Coulthart Journal.]

Parasite (2019)

The physical space in which the events take place is a symbolic site of severe class disparity in South Korea. The design of the house is reflective of the hierarchical forces that determine the contrasting lives of the Park family and the Kim clan. Architecturally, the house is a complex and curious character, it is an element of the film which poignantly illustrates how the architecture itself affects the social dynamic of society. How something as mundane as rain can be a starkly different experience depending on the quality of the spaces we inhabit.

[Image: Andrew Bannister.]

Bladerunner (1982)
bladerunner film

Bladerunner sets up the imagination in a way that uses scale to convey the largeness of the story. The atmospheric quality of the film is uniquely noteworthy, created with the use of vast statues and spaces, as well as effective lighting. Bladerunner’s set was inspired by the star architects of the time, these influences attributing significantly to the set’s ability to establish such powerfully atmospheric scenes throughout the duration of the film.

[Image: Vanity Fair.]

Brazil (1985)

Brazil is a unique film in the sense that it is made up of a multitude of different era-based styles. The story does not take place on a traditional street level, but instead in the air in a sort of infinite structure. This dynamism works to constantly destabilize the audience, leaving them somewhat lost in this dystopian environment in parallel with the experience of the film’s protagonists.

[Image: Posteritati.]

brazil film
Dark City (1998)
dark city film

Dark City is a noir science fiction film set in a place where the sun never shines. In the film, the streets cease to ever look the same, the infrastructure is constantly changing, new things always emerging. This quality of the architecture has the effect of decentring the viewer, thereby audiences are aligned with the task of the hero in the narrative being to recognise and navigate this complex structure.

[Image: TVTropes.]

Playtime (1967)

Playtime is a comedy set in a futuristic, hyper-consumerist Paris, recognised as Jacques Tati’s greatest work. The film is made up entirely of wide shots, giving audiences access to the full picture constantly. Forcing viewers to navigate around the frame in order to comprehend the multitude of relationships unfolding amongst the subjects and infrastructure. Playtime explores the nuances of the modern urban city in a playful and entertaining manner.

[Image: Dedece Blog.]

Playtime film
The Great Beauty (2013)
The Great beauty film

Audiences are taken on a journey through the infamous city of Rome alongside the 65-year-old bachelor protagonist, an author and socialite. This journey deals with the complexities of the meaning of life. The film shines a light on the minutia of the city, details such as children playing on the streets or the unique acoustics of certain buildings for example. The slow pace of the narrative allows viewers to experience Rome with keen appreciation for such details as the narrative unfolds. 

[Image: Criterion Collection.]

The Fountainhead (1949)

The Fountainhead addresses the politics of building skyscrapers. There is great significance in the architect making the conscious decision not to oblige to the demands of the developers or be subsumed by corruption. Instead he focuses on designing spaces and infrastructure that is actually best for the city as opposed to the money flow. Although produced in the late 1940s, the topics addressed are clearly still highly relevant today. 

[Image: Unobtainium13.]

fountainhead film
Gattaca (1997)
Gattaca film

Gattaca is about interstellar travel, in an imagined society in which people are pre-determined through selective genetic breeding, creating a race eugenically altered to achieve its maximum potential. The minimalist architecture that makes up this futuristic society reflects a desire to streamline technology in order to be as efficient as possible and reach an idea of perfection. The architecture here is a reflection of an aspirational human character.

[Image: DNAPodcast.]

Although the films of festive cheer may take priority over the dark dystopian genre on your screens for the next few weeks, if you do feel like mixing it up, we highly recommend squeezing in a few from the list above!

On another note, if you have friends or family members who shares your interest in architecture, and you are looking for gift ideas for them, check out this article featuring 10 books on architecture, design & cities to give as gifts. We hope it helps!

If you are planning on constructing or renovating your home or workplace and would like some help, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

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