Art History Lab

Building Worlds on Screen: Must-Watch Movies for Architecture Lovers

Movies for Architects and Architecture Lovers

Architecture is an art form that has been immortalized in various media. However, movies can showcase the beauty and intricacy of architecture in a unique way.

They provide an immersive experience that allows us to fully appreciate the art and science of architecture. In this article, we will explore some of the best movies for architects and architecture lovers.

Movies for Architects

Watching a movie that revolves around architecture can be a fascinating experience. Here are some of the best movies for architects.


The Fountainhead (1949)

Based on the novel by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead is a story about the struggles of a brilliant but uncompromising architect, Howard Roark.

He refuses to submit to the demands of his clients and the architecture establishment and is often at odds with the society he lives in. The movie features iconic buildings designed by famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and showcases the ideology of individualism that Rand espouses.

2. Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner is a visually stunning science fiction movie that takes place in a dystopian future where advanced technology has dramatically changed the building landscape.

Architects and designers were brought in to create futuristic skyscrapers and sprawling cityscapes for the film. The movie explores the impact of architecture and design on society and its interaction with technology.


The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

This quirky movie takes place in a fictitious Central European country and follows the story of a hotel concierge and his hotel lobby boy as they navigate a murder mystery.

The movie is a visual spectacle with its grandiose set designs, colorful palettes, and architectural detailing that exemplifies the Art Deco era.

The Fountainhead (1949)

The Fountainhead, directed by King Vidor in 1949, was an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s eponymous 1943 book. The story follows Howard Roark, an idealist architect who struggles to maintain his vision and ideas against commercialization and social pressure.

Roark is an uncompromising figure who embodies Rand’s philosophy of individualism and objectivism. The movie explores the inherent conflict between the art of architecture and the commercialization of it.

One highlight of the movie is the architecture of given prominence by Frank Lloyd Wright and his protg, Henry Roehrig, who built the office of arch-rival Peter Keating. The building’s design, materials, and integration with nature showcase Wright’s pioneering organic architecture.

The iconic Ennis House and Hollyhock House in Los Angeles were also featured prominently in the movie.

Mon Oncle (1958)

Mon Oncle (My Uncle) is a French comedy film directed by the legendary Jacques Tati. The movie satirizes the modern culture of consumerism and architecture’s influence on it.

Monsieur Hulot’s brother-in-law, Monsieur Arpel, lives in a modernist house in the suburbs that reflects the new age philosophy of function over form. The movie shows the juxtaposition of the modernist house’s perfection with the natural chaos and spontaneity of Hulot’s life.

The movie’s architectural views, which were of a realistic world but seen through Tati’s sometimes distorted and comically overstated vision, create a unique and unforgettable visual experience that still appeals to audiences today. My Architect: A Son’s Journey (2003)

Directed by Nathaniel Kahn, My Architect: A Son’s Journey is a documentary about the life and work of architect Louis Kahn, Nathaniel’s father.

Louis Kahn, one of the most significant architects of the 20th century, died in 1974, leaving behind a legacy of iconic structures. Nathaniel sets out to discover more about his father’s life and work by visiting some of the buildings he designed.

The movie is a journey of discovery and reconciliation for Nathaniel and reflects the tension between personal passion and professional excellence Louis Kahn and his family experienced. There are no formal interviews, and the movie proceeds mainly through informal conversations in cars or on walks with people who had known and worked closely with Nathan’s father.


Architecture is a multifaceted art that has been explored in many ways in movies. The movies mentioned above capture the beauty, intricacy, and important social and emotional aspects of architecture.

These movies offer a great way to explore architecture and gain insights into what motivates and inspires architects. They also show how architecture influences and interacts with society and culture.

Whether you are fascinated by architecture or just appreciate great movies, these films are worth watching.

Inception (2010)

Inception is a science-fiction action movie directed by Christopher Nolan that explores the concept of dreams and the subconscious mind. The movie follows a group of individuals who perform industrial espionage by entering the subconscious mind of their targets through dreams.

The concept of dream architecture is central to the film, and the characters manipulate the environment to achieve their objectives. The movie features stunning and intricate set designs that simulate dreams and subconscious spaces.

The environments range from cityscapes to intricate mazes and incredible structures that twist and turn in impossible ways. The level of detail in the design is remarkable, and the architecture reflects the character’s state of mind and emotions.

The movie is a visual spectacle that highlights the importance of architecture in creating immersive and provocative movie experiences.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a comedy-drama movie directed by Wes Anderson. The film takes place at a hotel in a fictitious European country and follows the adventures of the hotel’s concierge, M.

Gustave, and his protg, Zero, as they attempt to retrieve a valuable painting and clear Gustave’s name. The movie features a range of architectural styles such as rococo, baroque, and neo-classical, which are combined to create a whimsical, fantastical environment.

Anderson’s meticulous attention to detail and use of symmetry creates a visually stunning hotel environment that is both whimsical and grand. The movie features a dollhouse-like quality that reflects a child-like naivety and unconventional storytelling.

Anderson’s use of pastel colors and bold designs creates a vibrant and colorful movie that explores the bizarre and quirky nature of architecture.

The Infinite Happiness (2015)

The Infinite Happiness is a documentary movie directed by Ila Bka and Louise Lemoine that explores the daily lives of the residents of the 8 House, a Danish apartment complex designed by the architectural firm BIG. The movie takes an intimate and voyeuristic look at the lives of the residents and how they interact with the architecture and design of the building.

The movie highlights the importance of architecture in shaping how people live and engage with the spaces around them. The movie is a unique documentary that goes beyond the conventional examination of architecture to explore the emotional and social aspects of living in a shared space.

It shows how architecture can shape our daily routines and create environments that enable interaction and community.

Blade Runner (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the 1982 science-fiction classic, Blade Runner, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The movie takes place thirty years after the first film and follows the story of a new blade runner, K, who discovers a buried secret that leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, the original blade runner.

The movie features stunning set designs that highlight the futuristic cityscape and its many architectural marvels. The film presents a dystopian world where humans live offworld, and artificial intelligence is a normal part of daily life.

The architecture reflects this future, with skyscrapers, neon-lit streets, and sprawling cityscapes. The movie portrays the importance of architecture in shaping the future and the impact of technology on our lives.


Movies offer a unique and exciting way to explore architecture and design. The movies mentioned above showcase how architecture can create worlds beyond imagination and shape our perceptions of the past, present, and future.

The use of unique visual and storytelling styles in each film provides a detailed examination of the importance of architecture in creating an immersive and memorable movie experience.

Columbus (2017)

Columbus is a drama movie directed by Kogonada that explores the intersection of architecture and human relationships. The story follows Casey, a young woman who lives in Columbus, Indiana, and Jin, a man who visits the city to see his father, a famous architecture professor.

The city is known for its modern architecture, and the film explores its importance in the lives of the characters. The movie features beautiful architecture throughout its setting, showcasing various works by architects such as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier.

The buildings reflect the characters’ emotions and provide a backdrop for their conversations and experiences. The movie examines the relationship between architecture and identity, highlighting how our surroundings shape who we are and how we interact with the world.

Skyscraper (2018)

Skyscraper is an action movie directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber that follows Will Sawyer, a former FBI agent turned security consultant, who must save his family from terrorists who set fire to the tallest building in the world. The movie features the importance of architecture regarding safety concerns.

The skyscraper in the movie, known as The Pearl, is a futuristic tower located in Hong Kong that is a marvel of modern architecture. The movie showcases the genius of creating such a structure and its potential benefits.

However, the tower’s design is soon used against them during the terrorist attack, and the building becomes a trap for its occupants. The movie emphasizes the importance of safety design in architecture and its role in preventing disasters.

Parasite (2019)

Parasite is a thriller movie directed by Bong Joon-ho that explores class struggles in South Korea. The story follows a poor family that infiltrates the lives of a wealthy family and the consequences that follow.

The movie highlights the architecture of the wealthy family’s home, which is a significant symbol of their wealth and status in Korean society. The house has a modern and minimalist design with a seamless blend of indoors and outdoors spaces.

The architecture exhibits the exclusivity and privacy of the wealthy while providing a stunning visual experience to the viewers. However, the house’s design becomes a part of the social commentary that the movie focuses on, showcasing how wealth and status can be used to dominate others.


Movies offer a unique perspective on architecture, providing an immersive experience that visualizes architectural concepts and helps viewers understand their impact. The movies mentioned above showcase the importance of architecture in various roles, such as emulating emotions, providing an aesthetic backdrop, creating futuristic and modernized buildings, and even portraying the significance of architecture in security and socio-economic status.

These films are great examples to help audiences not only appreciate the art of architecture but also to be made aware of the significance of architecture in everyday life and society. Movies have the power to bring architecture to life and captivate audiences with stunning visuals and thought-provoking concepts.

From exploring the intersection of architecture and human relationships in films like “Columbus” to showcasing the importance of safety design in “Skyscraper,” these movies shed light on the significant roles that architecture plays in shaping our lives, identities, and societies. Additionally, films like “Inception” and “Blade Runner” depict architecture’s potential in creating immersive and futuristic worlds.

As viewers, we can appreciate the beauty and complexity of architectural designs while gaining insights into their emotional, social, and cultural impacts. Through these movies, we learn that architecture is not just about bricks and mortar, but a powerful force that influences how we experience the world around us.

So, the next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the architecture within it, and you may find yourself viewing buildings and spaces in a whole new light.

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