Architecture on Film London, Building, News, Tickets, Venue, Development

Architecture on Film : The Barbican Cinema Event

AF Cinema Event at The Barbican, London, England, UK

10 Feb 2012

Architecture on Film – 2012

Architecture on Film: From the Third Rail to the Third Reich

Architecture on Film, The Architecture Foundation’s leading series of cinema, documentary and art returns to the Barbican in 2012 with a pair of curated double bills offering an expanded view of architecture and the urban environment – from hip-hop culture’s treatment of the city as a canvas, to the political use of architecture as propaganda, and beyond.

For February’s edition of the series, New York’s first generation of graffiti artists meet their modern civic counterparts – or competitors. Tony Silver’s groundbreaking documentary Style Wars focuses on New York’s early 1980s hip-hop scene and its original graffiti artists who go to astonishing lengths to go ‘All City,’ transforming subway cars into mobile canvases. Meanwhile Matt McCormick’s contemporary short The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal concentrates on the act of municipal over-painting and the subconscious Abstract Expressionist and Minimalist ‘masterpieces’ that could be said to be created in the process.

The much celebrated Style Wars, referred to as ‘a work of art in its own right’ by Anthony Oliver Scott, Chief Film Critic for The New York Times, has seen a recent revival in the form of a fundraising drive to restore the original print of the film, which has been damaged after spending years in storage. Backed by various graffiti artists, musicians including The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea and actor Brad Pitt, the campaign aims to restore the film to its original vibrancy, enhancing the legacy of these now vanished artworks through the release of an HD version of the film.

The Architecture on Film series will return in May, this time in response to the Barbican Art Gallery’s major Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition. This screening, introduced by Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, will host the UK premiere of the documentary Leben in der Stadt von Morgen [Living in the City of Tomorrow] – an observational look at Berlin’s post-WW2 Modernist Hansaviertel district on the edge of the Tiergarten – plus a Q&A with its director, and Hansaviertel resident himself, Marian Engel. Leben in der Stadt… will be accompanied by an archival propagandist film from Hitler’s right-hand architect, Albert Speer, to complete the evening’s exploration of the changing relationship between Modernism and power.
Architecture on Film is an ongoing series incorporating UK premieres, chaired discu ssions, reprise screenings and curated double-bills, contextualised through commissioned programme notes, introductions and Q&As.

Barbican Centre
Barbican Centre
photo © Nick Weall

Early booking for both screenings is strongly recommended.

Architecture on Film – Feb

21 Feb, 7pm

Style Wars
USA 1984, Dir. Tony Silver, 69min

This celebrated 1984 documentary presents the city as a canvas and dance floor, offering a glimpse into the graffiti and hip-hop scenes in 1980s New York City, at the time of their nascent emergence. We see 149th Street subway station become a subcultural civic hall, where diverse young artists meet to discuss ‘rocking the city’ at the ‘writers’ bench,’ whilst the city government fights back with a marketing campaign asking its citizens to ‘make their mark in society, not on society.’ Providing a very different kind of trainspotting, this film offers a fascinating glimpse into a resolutely urban form of personal expression, at the inflection point from where it gained a global following.

The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal
USA 2001, Dir. Matt McCormick, 16min

Narrated by Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know), Matt McCormick’s short film playfully positions the sanitising act of graffiti removal and over-painting within the history of modern art. Unveiling the outcome’s arguable similarities to Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Russian Constructivism, the film revels with sly humour and insight in the formalist beauty created unconsciously by these civic ‘artists,’ for whom such achievements are all in a day’s work.

Architecture on Film – May

29 May, 7pm:

Leben in der Stadt von Morgen [Living in the City of Tomorrow]
(UK Premiere + Q&A with director, Marian Engel)
Germany 2007, Dir. Marian Engel, 96 mins

50 years following the construction of Hansaviertel (a modernist housing enclave on the edge of the Tiergarten) through the iconic Interbau Exhibition, this film documents the daily reality of life in the ‘city of tomorrow,’ through subtle observation and conversation with its residents. The Bauhaus’s architectural promise is here manipulated as a pawn in Berlin’s Cold War topology – West Berlin’s politicised ‘best practice’ response to East Berlin’s rapid social housing expansion and Stalin Alle – but can modernism’s promise hold out against civic instrumentalisation and contemporary urban conditions?
In German with English Subtitles

Die Bauten Adolf Hitlers
Germany 1938, Dir. Albert Speer, 17 mins
A propagandist short from Hitler’s master architect, Die Bauten opens with a derisive jazz-scored shot of the Bauhaus Building in Dessau, before moving on to glorify the Third Reich’s greatest architectural hits – from Munich’s Haus der Deutsche Kunst to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium – all created in the five years since the Bauhaus had been closed down. An important illustration of the ideologies latent in all design, and these ideas’ potential for manipulation.

In German

Architecture on Film Details

Tickets: £8.50 online (£10.50 otherwise), AF Members: £7.50 online (£8.50 otherwise), Concessions £7.50
Online: Telephone (9am-8pm): 020 7638 8891
Venue: Cinema 1, The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS


Architecture on Film – 2010

Architecture on Film : Public Housing

28 Jan 2010, 6.30pm

Screen 1, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London

Frederick Wiseman is one of the world’s living masters of documentary film making; frequently referred to as ‘a genre unto himself’ and ‘one of the greatest non fiction filmmakers who ever lived.’ In Public Housing, widely acclaimed as one of Wiseman’s greatest works, the director turns his lens towards the community of Chicago’s Ida B. Wells housing estate. A portrayal of architecture in both its physical and social forms, the film observes the estate’s residents as characters in an urban set, in an unfolding conversation with their environment.

USA 1997, Dir Frederick Wiseman, 195 min
With thanks to Zipporah Films

Standard: £7.50 online (£9.50 full price)
AF Members: £6.50 online (£7.50 full price)
020 7638 8891 |


The Architecture Foundation presents a Mexican Road Movie

In The Pit (En El Hoyo)
(Mexico 2006, Dir Juan Carlos Rulfo, 84 min)

28 Sep 2009

The Architecture Foundation continues Architecture On Film; its bi-monthly series of film screenings at the Barbican Centre that take a lateral look at architecture and the city, as represented and discussed across documentary, video art and the movies.

Mexican Road Movie Mexican Movie
pictures © Ana Lorena Ochoa

Winner of Best International Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, In The Pit is not a road movie in the traditional sense. Instead this intimate and affecting films looks at the construction crew building Mexico City’s Periferico Freeway, charting the social reality at the core of over ten miles of soaring reinforced concrete. Through objectively compassionate portraits of a miscellany of characters such as the wolf-whistling El Voyeur and the brusquely realist mason El Grande, the film charts the coarse life and camaraderie of the workers involved in the creation of a huge slab of the city, both floating in the air and submerged in the pit. The private life of urban infrastructure envisioned through a uniquely personal take on direct cinema, full of humour and grace.

Venue: Screen 2, The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London


18 Aug 2008

The Architecture Foundation, in partnership with the Barbican, presents the launch of Architecture on Film, a bi-monthly offering looking at the built environment’s depiction in cinema, with an accompanying question and answer session with the filmmakers.

The series kicks off on 24 September with a stellar double bill headlined by the UK Premiere of the acclaimed documentary Koolhaas HouseLife, by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine; an inspired look at Rem KoolhaasMaison à Bordeaux through the eyes and routines of its cleaner, the wonderful Guadalupe. This will be accompanied by Niklas Goldbach’s short film, Gan Eden, set in the remains of MVRDV’s Dutch Pavilion. In November we are delighted to host a question and answer session with director Michael Winterbottom following a screening of his futuristic love story Code 46.

The films offer a distinctive, sometimes provocative, sometimes humorous, investigation into the inner lives and afterlives of iconic contemporary architecture and the complex narratives that are lived through and around the structures.

Wed 24 Sep 7pm, Barbican
Koolhaas HouseLife

A documentary about Rem Koolhaas’ landmark house in Bordeaux as told through the routines and anecdotes of its cleaner, Guadalupe, in a series of wistful and humorous vignettes that bring the building to life. Offering an antidote to common representations of architecture devoid of people and function, the building becomes a character as the viewer enters the invisible bubble of the daily intimacy of an icon of contemporary architecture; moving rooms, leaky taps and all. The film has also been selected for inclusion in this year’s Venice Biennale. A short interview with Rem Koolhaas will be screened following the film. France 2008 Dir. Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine 60 min.


Gan Eden

Built for Hanover’s World EXPO 2000, MVRDV’s Dutch Pavilion was both a critique of consumer society and an example of environmentally sustainable architecture. Left standing and abandoned at the end of the expo, the pavilion has already fallen into disrepair. Gan Eden, premiered for Architecture on Film, charts two men wandering through this extremely contemporary ruin.
Germany 2006 Dir. Niklas Goldbach 10 min.

Mon 24 Nov 6.30pm, Barbican
Code 46 plus Barbican ScreenTalk with Michael Winterbottom

A thriller/love story set in the near future, Code 46 portrays a dauntingly possible world of gated urban city-states and desert slums, extrapolated from contemporary urban reality and a collage of Dubai buildings, Shanghai building and the Jubilee Line. Set against this Orwellian conclusion to the rapid urbanization of the globe, an illicit love affair between a government inspector (Tim Robbins) and a woman set on breaking the rules
(Samantha Morton) plays out. Director Michael Winterbottom will be in conversation following the screening.
UK 2003 Dir. Michael Winterbottom 92 min.

Future films to be screened in Architecture on Film at the Barbican include Thom Andersen’s quintessential cinematic essay and visioning of the city as a giant film lot, Los Angeles Plays Itself; and John O’Hagan’s Sundance screened documentary Wonderland, on Levittown, the USA’s first planned suburban community.

Architecture on Film at the Barbican, London, info from the Architecture Foundation 180808

Location: Barbican, London, England, UK

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The Architecture Foundation promotes and encourages the best in contemporary architecture and brings it to a wide public. It runs a rich programme comprising talks, events, exhibitions, films, design initiatives and competitions, research, policy work and films. Established in 1991 as Britain’s first independent architecture centre, The Architecture Foundation actively bridges the gap between decision-makers, design professionals and the public.

Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527
Address: Barbican, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
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