University of Waterloo
School of Architecture
Arch 443 / 646
Architecture and Film 2006:

Dystopia and Fear

Film gives us the rare opportunity to completely question all that has come to be accepted in terms of the language of architecture as well as architectural and historic convention. Vitruvius claimed architecture was composed of the triple essence: strength, utility, and aesthetic effect. Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639) quaintly changed this to, 'commodity, firmness and delight.' It would be safe to say that the majority of architecture that has been created to date has attempted to follow this dictate.

Laugier's Rustic Hut

Why then, has much of the "interesting" film architecture, been used to both create and support environments and social situations whose purposes are more dystopic and that attempt to create fear in the occupants?

Piranesi Carceri

There also appear to be distinct ties between the artistic or cult status of these films, and similarities in the surrealist movement in art and film.

This web project indentifies prevalent themes throughout films that address the issues of dystopia and more broadly, fear.



terri meyer boake
michael morgan
arjun mani
holly young
john lee
ivy ho
joel di giacomo
collin gardner
veronica lorenzo luaces pico
vera guo
michael lin
ben nielsen
jonah humphrey
darcy mcninch
uros novakovic
jody patterson
nu-ri lee
michael taylor
suzanne gibson
aleksander kolbas
tavis mcauley
ashley snell
Filmography for the course
  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) discussion questions
  Metropolis - Fritz Lang (1927) discussion questions
  Man with a Movie Camera (1929) discussion questions
  The Black Cat (1934) discussion questions
  Un Chien Andalou (1929) discussion questions
  Collection of Avant Garde Films (1920s 30s) discussion questions
  Blade Runner (1982) discussion questions
  True Stories (1986) discussion questions
  A Clockwork Orange (1972) discussion questions
  Metropolis - Osama Tezuka (2001) discussion questions
  Alphaville (1965) discussion questions
  Akira (1988) discussion questions
  Sin City (2005) discussion questions
  Brazil (1984) discussion questions

back to arch and film 2006


Student Dystopic Films:

As part of the course, students made films that incorporated the notion of dystopia into the presentation. The links below take you to their uploads on YouTube.


Michael Lin + John Lee:

Joel DiGiacomo:
Deep Blue Day