Cinematic Architecture: Harnessing the Emotive Power of Film through Physical Space

By Stephen Starkey.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We live in a world in which the experienced, remembered, and imagined, as well as the past, present, and future are inseparably intermixed. Place and event, space and mind, are not outside of each other. They mutually define one another and fuse into a singular experience. The world of film allows us to experience this duality perhaps more clearly than anywhere else. Film allows for a “window” through to another world, transporting the audience to spaces that are perhaps more “real” than anything we experience in our daily lives. We allow ourselves to become absorbed by the stories, the characters, and the environments and are transported into an entirely different plane of reality; a place more about psychological connections than physical ones. Space, both cinematic and architectural, is a delicate and artistic balance of psychological and experiential factors. Both forms of art define frames of life, situations of human interaction and horizons for understanding our world; however, movies have an unparalleled ability to affect both our emotions and our memories in ways that architectural spaces rarely achieve. Architecture has never been about the walls and columns that make it up, just as a film is more than just a collection of images on a screen. Can we begin to use film to guide the architectural process by better understanding how director’s have manipulated the medium, and the user, to create experiences in two dimensional space that have a lasting impact on our three dimensional world?

Keywords: Film, Architecture, Memory, Manipulation, Methodology, Theory

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.67-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.003MB).

Stephen Starkey

Graduate Student, Miami University (Oxford), Oxford, Ohio, USA

My name is Stephen Starkey and I’m a 24 year old designer/graduate student from Way- nesville, Ohio. In 2008, I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelors of Architecture and I am currently working towards my masters degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. My area of thesis concentration is centered on the relationship between film and architecture. The term space, used and overused and misused time and time again, is the essence of both film and architecture. It has different connotations in both, and yet both attempt to capture it. Film concerns itself primarily, but not exclusively, to that which is revealed to the viewer frame by frame. Architecture and Urban Design must contend not only with the spaces in the frame of view, but the order and structure of the spaces both within and outside a given perspective. Whether in film or architecture, the use of narrative can provide structure to the experience encountered as the viewer moves through space. I am interested in analyzing the visual techniques used in film in order to better understand how to manipulate space in my own designs.