Architecture and Film

Film inspires architecture, architecture inspires film. These are our favourite cases.

06.23.2021

Much of what we do across the fields of architecture and interior design amounts to the realization of fantasy. It’s always elusive at the start —an idea, feeling, vibe — but throughout the design process, we give to it a specific form and grounding in space. This isn’t a unique process per se, it’s one echoed in many art forms. But it is in film, much like our own field, that this process is most heavily employed. In this way, film continues to have a symbiotic relationship with what we do. And although we’ve examined the sets of various film heroes, this month we feature something broader and more related to our own process: architectural masterpieces used as film sets. In our studio, there are consistent examples of this brought out during concept phases, so we felt it worthwhile to immortalize some of that exploration here.

Filming on location at an iconic building is at a basic level much different than filming on a sound stage. It begets historical context, positions the script within iconography to which we can relate and calls upon the public discourse surrounding a particular architectural style. Furthermore, filming on location underscores the decisions made years prior by the architect at his drafting table. Building details are explored in nuanced contexts. The cinematographer is able to utilize the architectural lines and vignettes in ways to both minimize and amplify whatever might be happening between the characters. Hallways become frames for action, windows are sources of light for mood, life is allowed to play out within the walls of the building as if we as the audience are privy to a secret. When designing, we often think of the way life will be lived within the walls we’re imagining. What’s interesting to us is not just the volume or floor plan but the way a family might cook and gather around a dinner table in a specific sequence or how both important planned meetings and life changing accidental meetings might happen in a hotel lobby. These considerations become cinematic for us.

Because there are so many films to feature, we’ve chosen several of our favourites. They are as follows. All images are coursesy of Film Grab:

  1. Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, featuring Curzio Malaparte/Adalberto Libera’s Casa Malaparte
  2. Female, 1933, directed by Michael Curtiz, featuring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House
  3. The Day of the Locust, 1975, directed by John Schlesinger, featuring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House
  4. Blade Runner, 1982, directed by Ridley Scott, featuring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House
  5. Diamonds are Forever, 1971, directed by Guy Hamilton, featuring Lautner’s Elrod House
  6. Body Double, 1984, directed by Brian de Palma, featuring Lautner’s Chemosphere House
  7. A Single Man, 2009, directed by Tom Ford, featuring Lautner’s Schaffer House
  8. Beginners, 2010, directed by Mike Mills, featuring Neutra’s Lovell Health House
  9. I Am Love, 2010, directed by Luca Guadagnino, featuring Pierro Portaluppi’s Villa Necchi Campiglio
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Le Mepris (Contempt), 1964
Female, 1933
Female, 1933
Female, 1933
The Day of the Locust, 1975
The Day of the Locust, 1975
The Day of the Locust, 1975
Blade Runner, 1982
Blade Runner, 1982
Blade Runner, 1982
Blade Runner, 1982
Blade Runner, 1982
Blade Runner, 1982
Diamonds are Forever, 1971
Diamonds are Forever, 1971
Diamonds are Forever, 1971
Diamonds are Forever, 1971
Diamonds are Forever, 1971
Body Double, 1984
Body Double, 1984
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
A Single Man, 2009
Beginners, 2010
Beginners, 2010
Beginners, 2010
Beginners, 2010
Beginners, 2010
Beginners, 2010
Beginners, 2010
I Am Love, 2010
I Am Love, 2010
I Am Love, 2010
I Am Love, 2010
I Am Love, 2010
I Am Love, 2010
I Am Love, 2010