5 inspiring documentaries that every architect should know

Mar 19, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Film is the perfect medium for architecture visualizations. Film can provide illuminating facts, be emotionally charging, provide sobering documentaries or artistic interpretations. Architecture in film also offers plenty of room for the staging person. That is why internationally acclaimed directors and young filmmakers alike are drawn to bringing structures to the big screen. This is very clearly proven by the wide range of fascinating documentaries.


Architecture documentations

© Pixabay / DrMAURO; https://pixabay.com/de/schießen-kino-camcorder-kuba-75599/


Animated structures

If buildings could speak, what would they say to us? The episodic film "Cathedrals of Culture", which is just under three hours long, is dedicated to this question. In search for answers, six well-known directors explore the "soul" of structures with their cameras. Among them is the Austrian Michal Glawogger, who was celebrated for his films about exploitation in the globalized world and who tragically died in 2014. He presents the national library in St. Petersburg. Robert Redford considers the inner life of the Salk Institute in San Diego. And Wim Wenders lets the Berlin Philharmonic tell its story. The famous Konzerthaus (Vienna) actor Meret Becker provides the narration.


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Impressive personality

Oscar Niemeyer is an architectural legend. The Brazilian created 600 buildings, including the national stadium of Rio de Janeiro and the UN headquarters in New York. Shortly after his death in 2012, UNESCO made his archives with thousands of documents and sketches into a world heritage site. The documentary "Life is a Breath of Air" portrays Niemeyer's life and work: slow and subtly pathetic, with long close-ups and very intimate. There are also bone-dry sayings of a clever man accompanied by soft piano music.


Urbanized design

"Urbanized" concludes independent filmmaker and photographer Gary Hustwit's design document trilogy following "Helvetica" and "Objectified." In part 3 he also deals with the influence of design on our daily lives. His film uses different construction projects and fascinating imagery to show how urban design characterizes the metropolises of the world. Hustwit not only documents the importance of this design process, but also asks questions to stimulate the global discussion about the future development of our cities.



Fascination with the Far East

"Kochuu" presents the viewer with Japanese architecture between tradition and modern. Director Jesper Wachtmeister contrasts traditional Japanese buildings of modern architecture in the cities of the island country. "Kochuu" is a visually impressive film. It looks for the roots of Japanese architecture and shows its influence on the work of international designers, such as the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.


Stimulation instead of kicking back

Streaming services, such as Netflix, are how many people relax on the couch in the evening. If you look for them, you'll find all kinds of interesting little productions that make you think – and not just regarding the study of architecture. How about a documentary on the concepts of urbanism and the advantages of commuting by bicycle in a great style? Or perhaps a time travel in the footsteps of the secrets of British castles? Or the impressive realization of the One World Trade Center on Ground Zero in a cinematic overview? There's a lot to choose from!


Architecture can inspire – with styles, with its environment, with nature. It can also inspire you. That's what makes it so present and fascinates us time and time again in our daily lives.



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