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18 movies that architects and architecture students must watch

Architecture and movies. We are surrounded by Architecture and watching it through the frame of the camera gives us a better understanding of the details we overlook in reality. Movies are directed considering the perspectives, views, and background required for the plot, which tells us how important the surrounding is in any context. Architecture plays an important role in every aspect of our life. We have listed down some amazing movies with architectural references. Few of them are documentaries on the architect's life or urban architecture and others are movies with amazing architectural backgrounds.

1_The Architect (2016)

The Architect is a movie directed by Jonathan Parker in 2016. The movie revolves around the life of architect Miles Moss, who is hired by a married couple to design their dream home. The character brings out the stereotypes that make an architect as he is obsessed with his work, self-centered, and arrogant. It is a light comedy dealing with the architecture profession and how the world perceives architects. With the main question being, is he designing the couples dream home or his own masterpiece?

2_The Infinite Happiness (2015)

The Infinite Happiness is a documentary directed by Ila Bêka, Louise Lemoine in 2015. The documentary highlights the work of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. Rather than interviewing the architect, the directors preferred to follow the life of the residents who share their stories and experience of living in the ‘8’ housing development in Copenhagen.

3_The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a movie directed by Wes Anderson in 2014, admiring the foregone European grandeur. It describes the adventures and friendship between Gustave H, a concierge, and Zero Moustafa, a lobby boy at a famous European hotel.

4_Gran Horizonte: Around The Day In 80 Worlds (2013)

A film by Urban ThinkTank, developed by collecting material for about three years. It displays the truth of urbanity around the world. This documentary takes us to an unreal world trip from New Delhi to Bogota in one day.

5_The Competition (2013)

This documentary is a raw account of the best architects in the world. This is the first competition to be documented reflecting on how architecture is the only profession where you have to compete so hard to achieve orders.

6_The Human Scale (2012)

Directed by Andreas Dalsgaard, the human scale is a documentary that explores what happens when you focus on humans, in town planning. Studying human behavior in cities for 40 years, Jan Gehl, an architect, and professor has documented the cities and humans repelling human interaction and ensuring that we need to start building cities considering human needs.

7_Archiculture (2011)

Archiculture is a documentary that examines studio-based design education through the perspective of final year students. It illustrates the challenges of being a young architect in this fast-growing industry. Interactions and reactions of students portraying the life of architecture students in the studio.

8_Medianeras / Sidewalls (2011)

Medianeras /Sidewalls is a movie directed by Gustavo Taretto in 2011. The movie is based on the social distance and difference in urban life. Sidewalls are basically the walls of the urban cities and at the same time the walls that stand between the people living in the urban setup, preventing from socializing. The director focuses on the disease of modern society. The characters, Martin a webs designer and Marianna an architect live next to each other but have never met. Individually living life filled with a sense of isolation and loneliness.

9_Eames: The Architect And The Painter (2011)

A documentary narrated by James Franco, about the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames. Influencing the development of modernism and approach to running a creative unconventional work that created all kinds of mid-century furniture. The film explores their personal life, particularly the challenges of being a woman in a creative society dominated by males.

10_How Much Does Your Building Weigh Mr. Foster? (2010)

This documentary tracks life of Architect Norman Foster, one of the world’s premier architects and his quest to enhance the quality of life through design.

11_Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee And The Spirit Of Rural Studio (2010)

Citizen Architect is a documentary presenting the lifework of Mockbee Samuel, a professor at Auburn University who created a Rural Studio. It was created as a design/build education program that taught the basic responsibilities of the profession of architecture. The rural studio provided students with opportunities to create architecture for communities in rural Alabama, one of the poorest regions of America.

12_Inception (2010)

Inception is a film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Architecture is the central theme of this film and the entire story develops around an architect’s ability to design buildings.

13_Infinite Space : The Architecture Of John Lautner (2008)

Infinite space is a documentary that tells the story of the lifelong pursuit of John Lautner, a visionary genius, wanting to create architecture with no beginning and no end.

14_Visual Acoustic (2008)

A documentary that shows the career of one of the best architectural photographer, Julius Shulman. His images showed the power of modern American architecture.

15_24 City (2008)

24 City, a film directed by Jia Zhang Ke a Chinese filmmaker. Following the characters of three generations in the city of Chengdu working in a factory that will be demolished to give way to a modern apartment complex. Jia Zhang Ke interviews people whose lives are dependent on the factory. sharing their real-life experiences and the challenges they have to face with the restless sociopolitical changes in the 21st century China.

16_The Belly Of An Architect (1987)

The belly of an architect is a movie directed by Peter Greenaway in 1987. Architect Stourley Kracklite, the protagonist is an American architect who arrives in Rome, Italy with his wife to curate an exhibit surrounding Etienne-Louis Boullée. The director explores the side of architecture using his bitter humor to present all the unfinished projects. The spherical form dominates the entire film.

17_Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out Of Balance (1982)

Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance is a movie directed by Godfrey Reggio in 1982. It is a silent film without narration with an impressive visual and acoustic experience. The film alerts us about the environmental dangers caused by human actions.

18_The Fountainhead (1949)

The fountainhead is a movie directed by King Vidor in 1949. The film is based on a novel by Ayn Rand. Howard Roark, the protagonist is partially inspired by the real architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He is an architect with strong principles. The movie consists of scenes of modern architecture, showing the place of architects in society.

And the list goes on:

  • Rem Koolhaas: A Kind Of Architecture (2005)

  • In Exchange Of Five Apartments And One Shop (2005)

  • Sketches Of Frank Gehry (2005)

  • Kochuu: Japanese Architecture / Influence & Origin (2003)

  • My Architect: A Son’s Journey (2003)

  • A Space Odyssey (2001)

  • Dark City (1998)

  • Frank Lloyd Wright (1998)

  • La Haine (1995)

  • Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994)

  • Philip Johnson: Diary Of An Eccentric Architect (1994)

  • Dear Diary (1993)

  • Wings Of Desire (1987)

  • Antonio Gaudi Japan (1984)

  • Blade Runner (1982)

  • Manhattan (1979)

  • The Passenger (1974)

  • The World Of Buckminster Fuller (1974)

  • Playtime (1967)

  • Hands Over The City (1963)

  • Away From All The Suns –Russia – Germany (1961)

  • Mon Oncle (1958)

  • Rear Window (1954)

  • Metropolis (1927)

  • La Intumaine (1923)

And we will keep updating this list! :)



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