10 Best Movies Every Architect Should Watch

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Architecture and movies? The connection between the two sounds to be poles apart, right? But that is not true! After all, an architect is also an artist; a great amount of inspiration can come through visual arts and movies. Moreover, architecture forms the visual backdrop in movies through the landscape, the cities, the spaces, and much more. The architecture here interacts with nature and the built environment. It defines the experience on the screen; the built, the unbuilt, the colors, the textures, the light, and the shadows. Architecture thus influences movies through visual storytelling, adding depth to the narration and scenes.

Thus, it is apparent that there is a deep connection between architecture, architecture, and movies. A movie night after a long day at the site or the studio is thus, much needed! This helps break the monotony, unwind and train the brain to think and visualize better. Movies for architects can range in a wide genre. It could be architectural documentaries, documentation of projects, or movies showcasing the best cities and architectural marvels. Moreover, this could include works of fiction on the life of an architect or even sci-fi on futuristic architecture. The platter is diverse and interesting! Therefore, we are ready with our list of top 10 architectural movies based on extensive research. The list is a much watch for architects and aspirants.

Let’s check this out!

1. The infinite happiness (2015)

The infinite happiness is more of a case study of the works of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. The movie focuses on his vision for Copenhagen’s innovative ‘8’ housing development. The film follows the lives of the residents of this community and their interaction with the space. The narrations bring their stories and experiences by capturing their interaction with this new space. The movie walks the viewers through a play of funny and happy everyday stories. Stories from birthdays and outdoor activities to Halloween and family gatherings. Thus, focusing on how the design and the space interact with different moments.

2. In exchange for five apartments and one shop! (2005)

movies every architect should watch

In exchange for five apartments and one shop is an interesting docu-essay of Athens’s architectural and social evolution. The film documents architectural transformation through visuals, as in Greek fiction films. It focuses on the evolving cityscape of Athens led by economic and social revolutions. This architectural and sociological wonder is categorized thematically into five parts. This includes The Introduction, The Age of Innocence, The Explosive Adolescence, The Adulthood, and the Epilogue. Hence, each part is not only a visual retreat but also an architectural inspiration!

3. The Architect and The Painter (2011)

Charles and Ray Eames regarded the husband and wife duo as America’s most revolutionary designers. The couple is best recognized for their mid-century plywood and fiberglass designer furniture for the Eames Office. Thus, this is an architectural documentary. It delves deep into the private lives of this couple. The movie is an attempt at showcasing their thought process and design achievements. Their pivotal works include a mind-bending variety of innovations, right from splints for wounded military during World War II to photography, interiors, multi-media exhibits, graphics, games, films, and toys. Their personal lives have had a significant influence on the American design and architecture fraternities. The film thus depicts their works and their influence on the development of modernism to the rise of the computer age.

4. Blade Runner 1982

This might need a whole new blog. Yes, the movie is an architectural retreat that every architect must watch at least once. The film highlights how important architecture is to play when setting the premise and mood for the narration. Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, gives a glimpse of the gloomy, dark, and twisted side of Los Angeles in 2019. Moreover, the story talks of Replicants, cyborgs invented by humans for entertainment, but these engineered lifeforms are hunting for shelter to sustain themselves in the city. Even though the imagined Los Angeles didn’t materialize in the visuals, Blade Runner still manages to paint a picture of a society that is dystopian and not dreamy. Hence, the movie is full of inspiring architectural designs and innovations. Blade Runner is, thus, one of the best architectural productions in cinema, with a vision of a future city in disarray.

5. 24 City (2008)

A Mandarin-language documentary film directed and co-written by Jia Zhangke, a well-known Chinese filmmaker, 24 City is an exploration of the lives of three generations who are based in Chengdu. The movie depicts the story of a state-owned factory to be closed to erect a modern apartment complex. While showcasing the personal life of the eight characters, the movie runs through the history of China, thereby documenting the socio-political changes. Therefore, we can see the change in the architectural fabric and the evolution of spaces in the process.

6. Ex Machina (2014)

Ex Machina is a sci-fi film for architects who are tech-savvy, thrilled with age technology and innovations in the architectural genre. The futuristic visuals and the luxurious interiors are shown in Nathan’s home create a great point of inspiration for architects aiming to make pathbreaking architectural innovations. The film was shot in two locations, showing the character Nathan’s home through jaw-dropping architectural elements to showcase the character’s intellectual status and wealth. Ths architecture has become a great medium to convey many messages in visual arts.

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fictional comedy drama known for its grandeur and visual aesthetics. Directed by Wes Anderson, the film showcases the hotel building with an ornamental facade in pink, focusing on spiritual heritage and bringing the long-lost styles of architecture back to prominence. Thus, the movie is a revival of place, memory, and reliving of the era of architecture. It is a nostalgic depiction of nested narratives of 20th-century Vienna and its architectural styles.

8. High Rise

An exemplary futuristic architectural movie that can leave every architect in awe!. A dystopian movie, High Rise is set in the backdrop of a luxurious tower block with marvelous interiors and amenities. The film features a forty-storied tower which is the epitome of urban lifestyle with conveniences wit in the tower such as a supermarket, pool, gym, and even a primary school. The movie showcases the modernism moment in architecture where the functionality of buildings was something that designers experimented with.

9. Visual Acoustics (2008)

Here’s an inspirational documentary! Based on the life of Julius Shulman, a great architectural photographer, Visual Acoustics is a walk-through of Shulman’s career, his works, and ideologies. Julius Shulman was avidly interested in modern American architecture, and his photography helped famous architects align their careers better. The file is a pure narration of Dustin Hoffman through visuals, exploring the works of the photographer. The movie highlights Southern California Modernism, one of Julius’s prominent works. Thus, this surely grabs the attention of aspiring architects, as it showcases the evolution of modernism in American architecture.

10. The Fountainhead (1949)

How could we forget the basics? There has been a time when young aspirants walked out to become architects upon reading this unique work of fiction, The Fountainhead. Based on Ayn Rand’s novel, the movie revolves around the story of the creative freedom of a young architect who tries to undo traditional architecture and its’s deep-rooted, over-rated values. The movie beautifully envisages the character of Howard Roark, a modern architect who wishes to play by his own rules without compromising his visions. The film depicts the war between individualism and collectivism, indicating the herd mentality in the field of architecture and how Howard tries to fight it. Therefore, The Fountainhead is a timeless classic topped with an interesting love triangle.

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