If drawing is two-dimensional and architecture is three-dimensional, what kind of practice defines the fourth dimension? Many architects would say film, as it combines all the ideas of architecture — SPACE, physical dimension, light, sound, and materials — with time.
Since the birth of the moving image, architects have explored how architecture can be present in film and how film can be expressed in architecture. For example, two films made in different eras captured architects' fears about the future of cities and culture: Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. While neither of these is about a specific building, although Blade Runner did use Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis Brown house as a set, they capture a sensibility about the city as a chaotic organism taken over by commerce and machines. Other films capture architectural expression about Modernism, like Jacques Tati's Playtime or Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, or even the original Planet of the Apes movies, which used mid-century plaza scapes in Los Angeles as dramatic backgrounds for simians gone wild. Architects have also enjoyed films that change relationships in timeline and place, for example, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
Many architects have considered how their buildings have been cinematic as well — that is, the ways they can make spaces that feel like stages, encourage people to interact in dramatic ways, or offer specific surfaces for film or digital projections. An example of this: the Student Center at Columbia University, designed by Bernard Tschumi, where a dance troupe choreographed a performance specifically for its prominent glass ramps.
Film houses and cinemas are common PROGRAMS in achitecture school design studios because they encourage students to think about light, color, and people and their surroundings as compelling dynamic places. Here are some examples of faculty and student work in film or design for the cinematic...
Image 1 & 2 > Competition plates and rendering work for the Long Island City Cinema.
Image 3 > Proposed design for a museum of light and architecture.
Image 4 > "FLUXhome."
Image 5 > "ReFrame," Museum of Architecture and the City.
Image 6 > A project targeted towards automobile travelers and the reasons they stop along the way to their destination.
Image 7 > A spatial rendering of an interactive art installation. The design narrative is based on Jean Genet's one-act play, "The Maids."
Image 8 - 10 > This project was designed to explore cinema as a conceptual construct and apply our discoveries onto a public space.