Architecture | Film | Narrative

Last Year at Mrienbad (1961) directed by Alain Resnais
Last Year at Mrienbad (1961) directed by Alain Resnais

In Europe and the United States, it is relatively more active than Japan to represent architecture and urban design with other media, and to have discussions connecting with other genres to discover something new. In fact, building is determined as a part of urban design including landscape design and interior design as a part of architecture (i.e., city ≧ architecture ≧ interior), and these borderlines are sparse. Especially there are lot of studies on urbanism and architecture combined with film and art. The books by Juliana Bruno of Harvard University, Anne Friedberg of University of Southern California and Anthony Vidler of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, talk about the idea to make space and architecture confront each other are well-known In particular. In Europe and the United States, it is relatively more active than Japan to represent architecture and urban design with other media, and to have discussions connecting with other genres to discover something new. In fact, building is determined as a part of urban design including landscape design and interior design as a part of architecture (i.e., city ≧ architecture ≧ interior), and these borderlines are sparse. Especially there are lot of studies on urbanism and architecture combined with film and art. The books by Juliana Bruno of Harvard University, Anne Friedberg of University of Southern California and Anthony Vidler of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, talk about the idea to make space and architecture confront each other are well-known In particular.

For building and urban design, as they have a presence with the physical permanency in architecture and film is temporary and passing-by media, there were rather continuous consideration “to give a movement onto a static object” and interrelate because these two are totally opposite. A Finish architect and theorist, Juhani Pallasmaa who wrote a book, “The Architecture of Image”, described ‘architecturally’ about films by Andrei Tarkovski, Michelangelo Antonioni, Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. He deeply explores the filmic spaces from a viewpoint of an architect.

In addition, in the literature, the works Virginia WoolIn addition, in the literature, the works Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust that expresses the "stream of consciousness" in the early 20th century are clearly a trial of visualization of narrative space. Also in early 1960s in France, a standard-bearer Alain Robbe-Grillet of the experimental literature called ‘Nouveau Roman’ tried to represent architectural space with an extreme action of words and especially in “Last Year in Marienbad” (1961) there seems to be third meaning is revealed with a big diremption between original novel and film. Then, cyberspace and virtual reality came since after the 1980s affected architectural space recognition and representation. These were conceptual emergence of them in Science Fiction novels such as Philip · K · Dick’s and William Gibson’s since after 1960s as well as Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” (1972).

There are some people who developed concept of buildings and cities in a two-dimensional space such as paintings and drawings. Italian painter and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) in the 18th century gave an strong impact not only on the neoclassical design of architecture but also subsequently in the contemporary world then since after the 1960s an un-building architects such as Rebeusu Woods (1940-2012) and Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965) from Cooper Union in NYC, also avant-garde architect group, Archigram (1761-70) in Architectural Association School of Architecture in London had action in academy and journalism, influencing urban and architectural design in the real world.

The Walking City (1964) proposed by architect Ron Herron ( Archigram )
The Walking City (1964) proposed by architect Ron Herron ( Archigram )

Generally speaking, in the relationship between architectural and urban design with film we may say Science Fiction films such as "Blade Runner" (1982) and "Solaris" (1972), "Brazil" (1985) based on the neo-futuristic world came seems to have go before than films with computer graphics. In the old times the Avant – garde space expression of films with light and darkness by G. W. Pabst, Robert Wiene’s “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920) by and Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1928) made in the context of German Expressionism in the 1920s had a strong effect on building design later.

On the other hand, Sergei Eisenstein who is most important filmmaker in the film history and his establishment of the theory of montage are strongly relating to his career that he studied architecture once before being into a film industry. He was actually a believer of Le Corbusier.

As mentioned before Chris Marker attempted to exceed space-time in the consciousness and memory in "La Jetée" by (1962) made in same period as "Last year at Marienbad" in the French Nouvelle Vague and Michelangelo Antonioni’s series of films exposed human psychology in depth using the city elements and landscapes and these series of works impress the presence of both urban and architectural space. A book about David Lynch’s architecture in his films and other assorted essays about film and architecture, ‘The Architecture of David Lynch’ is published in 2014 and the author Richard Martin had a publication lecture at Architectural Association.Of course, since after films made of computer graphics, as the expansion and growth of domain of expression, in "Matrix" (1999) a redefinition of architectural space for the 21st century seems to have been made by use of filmmaker’s intelligence based on the theory of parallel space by modern philosopher, Jean Baudrillard with a development of the idea of cyberspace. Besides, in the films like Luc Besson's " LUCY / Lucy " (2014) and Christopher Nolan’s "Interstellar" (2014) and his other action- entertaining films are as if they are seeking for a new spatial vision and that attracts many architects very much.

Solaris (1972) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Solaris (1972) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

The film and architectures referring here are not just their designs but that includes narratives and works have visual and psychological characters as well. Especially, the narratives created in the field of landscape design, in all countries, are clearly tangible in the old landscape gardens with ‘sequence’ like Shugakuin Rikyu imperial garden in Kyoto and Stourhead Landscape Garden in UK made in old days and also like the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in London designed by Kathryn Gustafson and opened in 2004.

As an example of architectural works under the influence of films that are ostensively known, is Robert Mallet-Stevens’ act in the film set design during Le Corbusier’s period like in 1920s and 30s. In the contemporary world as architect who made works strongly relating to concept of film, we have Bernard Tschumi who described a lot about films such as ‘ciné-gram’, Nigel Coates (narrative: he wrote a book ‘Narrative Architecture’ in 2012), Rem Koolhass (edit: He studied film in Holland then moved to AA to study architecture.), Jean Nouvel (light and shadow, sequence), Steven Holl (light and shadow), Herzog & de Meuron (translucency, sequence) and Coop Himmelb(l)au (temporality, sequence: Their Busan Cinema Centre was opened in 2012.). Also, David Adjaye and Alberto Campo Baeza emphasises the meaning and presence of light in architectural space. Wim Wenders åwas intrigued by Sanaa’s The Rolex Learning Centre that was enough to make his film titled “If Building Could Talk” (2010) out of the building and he expanded the idea that each architecture possibly has its own narrative then that became a production of a long-length documentary film, “Cathedrals of Culture”(2014).

Busan Cinema Center designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au
Busan Cinema Center designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au

In this particular area an architect, Ryoji Suzuki’s effort is very important in Japan. Instead of taking the theory of cinematic architecture as just idealism, he attempted to get close to the meaning of space rather to ‘materiality’ with his space installation, making films with 16mm and talked deeply about architectural films and no one else ever did like this before. Therefore he is one and only person for cinematic architecture in Japan. It is expected that his books with his excellent film critics such as ‘Architectural Films Material Suspense’ (2013) will be translated into foreign languages. Also, an architect, Arata Isozaki, declared various possibilities to develop the design theory connecting with intellectual confines separating idea of ‘architecture’ from ‘building’ by relating contemporary philosophy and theory of urbanism or art to architecture and urban design.

Thus, in this way, by referring to the elements of the other media, traversing, the notion of cinematic architecture experimenting radical fusion of film and architecture gives various possibilities for the design and architectural field.