The [Un]buildable: Speculative Animations in Cinema and Architectural Research

By Maciej Stasiowski.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Emerging flows of ideas between cinema and architecture began intertwining in the early 1900s. Such was the case of the 20th century industrial city's spatial organisation, which was often represented through its flows: flows of human masses, economic goods, and information, in turn contributing to the cinematography and montage style of the day. In the 1970s, that tendency re-emerged, but was disguised in the form of architectural manifestos (Rem Koolhaas' “Delirious New York. A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan,” Bernard Tschumi's “Manhattan Transcripts”). The incorporation of cinematographic techniques into the research and design processes employed both a vocabulary attributed to cinema (e.g. shots, angles, types of montage, frames) and highlighted the architectural projects' temporal and transformative aspect. A further merging of the architectural and cinematic planes came forth in the 21st century. Commercial fly-through animations evolved into stand-alone artistic short animated films. Urban and architectural criticism became predominant in them (with the critique aiming for example at China’s rampant urbanism or buildings’ visual primacy in the cities' skyline). Expanding on the tradition of 18th century’s speculative drawings (Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Étienne-Louis Boullée), some short animated films made by the members of Factory Fifteen projected the concerns attributed to previous epoques into a CGI-framework of modern architectural practice (CAD/CAM). This new “space” became a meeting point. Cinematography ventured into the architectural practice, but, at the same time, architecture drifted towards a film-like narrativization of the designs. This cross-fertilization can be regarded as a generative/analytical tool, capable of evaluating architectural ideas—the issue explored over the course of this paper.

Keywords: Architecture, Cinema, Material and Immaterial Flows

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.63-73. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 636.900KB).

Maciej Stasiowski

PhD Student, Faculty of Management and Social Communication, Institute of Audiovisual Arts, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland