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.

Throughout the history of film, we have seen a change in the ways in which architecture is used, portrayed and represented in film.

The theme for this term is "manipulated realities". In many senses, film is always presenting a version of reality. Even a documentary film is framed in a certain way in order to direct its viewers to see the issues in the same light as the director intended.

Realities, and those associated with the architecture in the film, are manipulated in a multitude of ways. In early films, physical sets were created that mocked up a version of urban space. Later on detailed scale models were used to create urban futures that bore some resemblance to the current world. The most obvious way to manipulate space in current film might be through the use of special effects and CG to modify the setting as filmed. In other cases the lighting and environment are changed in order to make the architecture and urban spaces read in a certain way. One can take an ordinary scene set in Paris or Chicago and use lighting, atmospheric effects and music in such a way as to evoke fear or terror. Animation can also be used to create architectural and urban environments that while evoking memories of the familiar, might also through the ease of the medium, transform those settings to create different readings of the space. The films selected for this term are extremely varied in terms of their topics and type of film medium, but all have been chosen to highlight a range of tools that can be applied to the use of architecture in film to frame the narrative in very specific ways.

This assignment was to take one of the key words or phrases listed to the right and use at least four of the films we have viewed this term to construct a web page that illustrates the presenation of madness in the set of films, and as relates to the larger discussion of the term.



"manipulated realities" topics
terri meyer boake
emma ma
ryan yeung
nora guan
anne ma
ashley wood
john lee
kevin lisoy
giovanni comi
sam sutherland
stephanie boutari
adam schwartzenrtruber
miklos csonti
tania fiuzie
joon yang
laura fenwick
chris mosiadz
raja moussaoui
alejandro fernandez
holland young
matthew barbesin
taehyung richard kim
michael hasey
tyler murray
clayton lent
matt hartney
brian muthaliff
sound design
joel digiacomo
Filmography for the course
  Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) discussion questions
  The Man With the Movie Camera (1929) discussion questions
  The Lisbon Story (1995) discussion questions
  Paris Je t'aime (2006) discussion questions
  The Shining (1980) discussion questions
  Cube (1997) discussion questions
  Solaris (1972) discussion questions
  A Zed and Two Noughts (1985) discussion questions
  Pink Floyd The Wall (1982) discussion questions
  Equilibrium (2006) discussion questions
  Renaissance 2054 (2006) discussion questions
  Paprika (2006) discussion questions
  Suggested Readings:  
  Vidler, Anthony. The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1992.
  Vidler, Anthony. Warped Space. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2000.  
  Freud, Sigmund. The Uncanny. Originally published, 1899.
  Royle, Nicholas. The Uncanny. New York: Routlege Press, 2003.  
  Affron, Charles and Mirella Jona Affron. Sets in Motion: Art Direction and Film Narrative. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
  Paradoxa. Volume 3: The Uncanny. link  
  I think Sebastian, Therefore I ... Somersault. Film and the Uncanny. Leslie Stern. link

back to arch and film 2009


Student Manipulated Reality Films:

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


Deep Cold
Giovanni Comi

Manifested Dreams
Miklos Csonti

Neopolitan Dreams
Kevin Lisoy + Chris Mosiadz

Out of Focus
Anne Ma + Ryan Yeung

Oath to Truth
Taehyung Richard Kim

John Lee + Alejandro Fernandez

If They Hear Not Moses
Tania Fuizie + Sam Sutherland

Wide Asleep
Joel DiGiacomo

Fake Your Beauty
Holland Young


University of Waterloo
School of Architecture
Arch 443 / 646
Architecture and Film 2009:

"manipulated realities"


updated Monday, September 6, 2010 3:53 PM