Architecture, understood as a form of expression to communicate the architect’s view on the world (either a real or an imagined one) is part of our daily lives, our big cities, our closest environment and, of course, part of the history of film. Thus, it is not surprising to find an extremely influential connection between both of them—cinema and architecture—adding a greater scale to the most creative approach to both fields.

Since we are based in Sitges (Barcelona) and this week the town is holding the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia we could not but talk about cinema and the architecture’s immersion in it.

This post is meant to be a brief overview on the relevance of Architecture for describing the space in the countless existing films, both for replicating the real world and for creating imaginary cities from scratch.

From the most classical films, such as Metropolis (1927) to Mon Oncle (1958) or The birds (1963), we can find a myriad of direct influences. For instance, Metropolis is basically a majestic city inspired and starred by the skyscrapers in New York’s skyline featuring a clear Art Deco architectural influence. The mixing of buildings from different periods makes this film a journey through the Architecture itself. The contrast with the working class town, having simple and restrained buildings, is also emphasised.

In Mon Oncle, for instance, we can see Villa Arpel, which is the greatest exponent of (European) modern Architecture.

Villa Arpel in Mon Oncle.

This is a satire of how impersonal and hostile the most stylish constructions at that time were when compared to the apartments where the working class used to live. That is the case of The House, home to the main character: The house in Mon Oncle

Special mention should be made to those works of urban architecture belonging to an imaginary future introduced by the sci-fi genre; that is, sagas such as Stars Wars (1977, the first film) where we can find stunning Architecture from ancient temples, like the Massassi Temple or the Theed Royal Palace, to futuristic floating cities, like Cloud City.


Cloud City

Real urban architecture projects. Films such as Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Maze Runner, Minority Report, or Matrix, etc. live within this genre of fictitious futuristic architecture where imaginary cities are created following an overwhelming and suffocating architecture.

Slightly watered-down is the recent Tomorrowland, although we find it interesting to include it because it is located in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia devised by Santiago Calatrava. Here below you can find the trailer: Tomorrowland trailer



This list is extensive and therefore it is not possible to mention them all. However, if you are curious about it, I would suggest to attend the International Cinema and Architecture Festival FICARQ in Santander .

Shifting to another style, there is a very interesting article about urban marginality: (Urban marginality in Latinoamerica ). This would mean the opposite to what we have been explaining so far, but of equal relevance. It is about how the cinema can be used to expose the bitter side of urban architecture, especially in Latin American cities where overpopulation is a very serious issue and there is an uncontrolled informal urbanisation.

It includes films such as City of God (2002, showing the real drama of suburban settlements or the so-called favelas, many of which have even been built up from older ones) City of God trailer or Machuca (2004, where social discrimination between different social classes becomes obvious as soon as the house of each main character appears in the film).


There is so much material we could write a book on the topic, but it is enough about Film and Architecture for today. If you find it interesting, I invite you to comment on it and we will extend the information as we think it is a fascinating topic to talk about.


Thanks for reading!!!

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