10 Years of Architecture on Film

The Architecture Foundation celebrates a decade of its Architecture on Film programme.

From its inception in 2008, Architecture on Film has aimed to expand the discourse surrounding the relationship between architecture and cinema. Curated by Justin Jaeckle for the Architecture Foundation, in partnership with the Barbican, the series was begun with the desire to explore such connections from new angles, away from staid talking heads documentaries or the dominating holy triumvirate of the architecture-film conversation: Blade Runner (Ridley Scott), Metropolis (Fritz Lang) and Playtime (Jacques Tati).

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Courtesy Thom Andersen / LUX)

A quote from Rem Koolhaas forever lingers over the season’s programme: ‘An architect writes scripts, but for people, not for actors'. Through works of fiction and documentary, archival footage and visual art, Architecture on Film seeks to present the ways the moving image can perform these scripts anew.

The series has now incorporated 120 films over 60 screenings, including over 30 UK premieres.

Koolhaas, Houselife (Courtesy Bêka and Lemoine)

As a way of further expanding the discussion of the works shown and the issues they raise, the season frequently features Q&As and specialist introductions, as well as commissioning original essays for the screenings’ programme notes.


From Sam Jacob’s writing on Koolhaas HouseLife and Gan Eden for the season’s inauguration, to Kodwo Eshun (Otolith Group) on Thom Andersen’s cinematic landmark Los Angeles Plays Itself, from Liam Young on Buckminster Fuller talking to hippies during the height of the Summer of Love to Pippo Ciorra (MAXXI Rome) on David Byrne’s fictional town of Virgil, Texas, these texts form a now significant archive of original thinking, inspired and produced by Architecture on Film’s programme.

David Byrne, True Stories

Geoff Shearcroft (AOC) has written on the suburban dreams of Levittown, Anna Minton on the ‘malls without walls’ depicted in Jem Cohen’s Chain, James Attlee on the NYC tunnel-dwellers housed in Marc Singer’s seminal Dark Days, Andre Tavares on two visions of the work of Siza and Souto de Moura. Andres Lepik responded to a double bill of vital works by Harun Farocki, Carles Guerra to Rossellini’s truly remarkable portrait of the Pompidou Centre on the day of its public inauguration, Aric Chen to Jia Zhangke’s masterpiece of contemporary Chinese cinema, The World.

Roberto Rossellini, Emmanuel Machuel and Nestor Almendros on the set of Pompidou (Courtesy imotion films / STUDIO FRANCIS DIAZ)

Highlight Q&As and texts include conversations between Patrick Keiller (London) and Joe Kerr, artist Sarah Morris and Dr. Andrea Phillips, filmmaker John Smith and Ian Christie, director Michael Winterbottom and Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG), and designer Gaetano Pesce and Peter Lang – who spoke together about the landmark 1972 MoMA exhibition Italy – The New Domestic Landscape.

John Smith, 'Blight'

And who could forget the conversation between Rem Koolhaas and Shumon Basar, preceeding the UK premiere of The White Slave – the scandalous 1969 feature Koolhaas wrote before turning to architecture, which director Rene Daadler restored and subtitled especially for its incredibly rare Architecture on Film screening.

The White Slave, production still (Courtesy Rene Daalder)

As Architecture on Film continues, throughout its 10th year we’ll be returning to work by some of the season’s previously featured key directors, including Harun Farocki (Sept 2018) and Patrick Keiller (Jan 2019), while premiering important films both new and old in the UK, such as Flag Wars, the first film by Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) and Linda Goode Bryant, which screens on 6 November 2018. 

London (Courtesy Patrick Keiller / LUX)

And where better to explore the meeting of architecture and cinema, than within the unique architectural frame of the Barbican Centre itself?

Still want more?

The complete Architecture on Film programme to date and it’s accompanying texts can be found online here, along with the complete archive of recorded Q&As here.