Page 1

Film and Architecture.

Seeking a Better Metaphor for Experience

This Thesis Book is submitted by Lauren Lloyd and is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the bachelors of architecture degree. Thesis advisor: Randal Vaughan

Acknowledgments. As someone who has often daydreamed about someday winning an Oscar, I thought that this part of my thesis book would be a breeze. After all, I have been practicing this speech in the shower for many years now. But, as I sit here trying to put the words together, I am realizing just how many people have come in and out of my life and how impossible it will be to thank them all sufficiently in this tiny text box. I’m going to try anyway. First, I have to thank my family. Thank you dad for reminding me to stay curious and for always follow my dreams. Thank you mom for always lighting a candle for me telling me to finish strong. Thank you to my sister for listening to my completely irrelevant rants about things and for always supporting and loving me. Thank you to the man who has decided to spend the rest of his life listening to me talk. You have been patient and understanding, you have bought me waffles on a regular basis and you have loved me more than I likely deserve. I am so thankful that I found you when I did. Second, I have to thank my incredible friends, some I lived with, some I worked with, some I sang with twice a week. Thank you for not letting me go to bed at ten o’clock every night. Thank you for always inviting me to hang out with you even when I had said no a million times before. Thank you for asking how I was doing and cheering me on through every endeavor. You are the reason I survived architecture school with my optimism and humor intact and I will be forever grateful. Third, I have to thank my incredible professors and peers. Thank you to all of the professors who have dealt with me in my various stages of frustration and insubordination and thank you for not giving up on my project even when I had. Thank you for your time and your knowledge and your incredible patience and for always pushing me to be better. Thank you to my peers for letting me come bother you and ask you a question and for always being down for a coffee break. I am so honored to have spent the last five years with such an incredible group of students, it is a privilege to have studied by your side. Fourth, I would like to take a moment to thank all of the people who have supported me behind the scenes. If this were my Oscar speech I would call them ‘my incredible cast and crew.’ Thank you to Ms. Carmen at the Drawing Board Cafe for always giggling when I make the same joke about Pop-Tarts being the breakfast of champions. Thank you to the baristas at Coffee Cat for helping me check ‘have a usual at a coffee shop’ off of my bucket list. Thank you to all of the roommates I have had over the years for not complaining when I came home at 3 a.m. and made myself a bowl of cereal. I know I woke you up, but thanks for pretending I didn’t. Lastly, I would like to thank the Academy, I mean the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, for giving me this incredible opportunity. It is hard to believe that five years has already passed by, but I am glad to have spent it with you. War Eagle.

Table of Contents.

Thesis Paper 01 Programming 26 Final Project 48

The Better Metaphor.

Introduction. It is apparent from the readings I have come across that there is a relationship between film and architecture. Most philosophers, filmmakers, and architects alike seem to agree that the common elements of time and movement link the two mediums. Although these writers agree the two are linked, they limit their relationship to strictly metaphorical, utilizing the commonalities to make points about each medium, but never going beyond the comparison. I would argue that film and architecture are more deeply linked through the common element of storytelling. Storytelling is a critical part of our humanity. It is how we relate our personal experiences to others, how we build relationships, how we think critically, how we understand our past, and how we anticipate our future. Storytelling is at the base of all artistic expression. Besides our biological needs for water, food, shelter, our need for companionship and expression render us human. The act of building began as meeting our basic necessity for shelter, but it has evolved into architecture, a storytelling method projected onto the built environment to relate the human narrative. Therefore architecture is storytelling. Film is yet another evolution of storytelling. Although the technology to create film only came about recently, in the grand scheme of human existence, the concept of film has always existed. The use of images in a specific sequence to depict an event or relay an experience has been around for centuries. If storytelling can be considered a basic need to be human, like shelter and water, than both storytelling and building are the crude processes of meeting those needs, where as film and architecture are the more sophisticated evolutions of those processes. 1

These two methods of storytelling differ in medium, but are connected through the goals and processes they share. Both mediums convey and create experiences (personal experiences and communal experiences). Both are created out of an interpretation of personal experiences and both attempt to relate personal experiences to others. Both rely on time and motion to draw others into the experience. Film utilizes the motion of the characters and camera, and the editing of frames together in a highly specific way. Architecture relies on the movement of the individual experiencing the space, and the sequence created within the structure. They are both storytelling devices, where storytelling is the act of sharing a narrative and narrative is the subject of the action of storytelling. Film projects a specific narrative, carefully crafted and intended to have one true interpretation by the audience. Architecture must be less specific, as the individual experiencing the space cannot be as easily controlled and, therefore, the narrative can be disrupted more easily. Architecture must be a subtle narrative, clearly intended but still open for interpretation by the audience of individuals who experience. This is the challenge of creating an architectural narrative, but also the opportunity. Individuals must create their own narrative out of the structure the architect has provided. There is one communal narrative, as intended by the architect, and infinite individual narrative possibilities as each person brings in their own experiences. Therefore, architecture is both narrative and narrative structure, written for all to understand but also for each to interpret.


Metaphor. In order to understand the relationship of film to architecture we must first explore the process of relating other fields to architecture in a general sense. Diana Agrest’s article titled “Design versus Non-Design” develops this process in great detail.

The final code is non-specific. The example Agrest gives of this type of code is rhythm, which is a critical part of music, but can also be translated into design in a visual sense, therefore relating the two systems to each other.5 For film, these codes could be movement, time, or sequence, as mentioned earlier.

Agrest defines ‘culture’ as being made up of a group of systems, each with their own set of social codes that determine the system’s relationship to the world and to other systems.1 These systems can fall into two categories: design and non-design. The design category contains different practices, such as architecture and urban design, which are closed systems. A closed system “possesses specific characteristics that distinguish it from all other cultural practices and that establish boundary between what is design and what is not.”2

These less specific codes are what connect design to other non-design systems by opening and closing the limits of the system. This allows for new ideas and opportunities (from technology, other fields, etc.) to become incorporated into the system without merging two fields. Different determinations can effect the system, either internal determinations, which occur within a subsystem of design and requires adopting new codes, or external determinations, which occur outside of design entirely (such as politics, economics, ideology shifts, etc.) and cause alterations within the design system.6 These determinations create opportunities for “ideological filtering,” in which a design system exchanges codes and figures from another system through a process of symbolization, such as a repeated series of windows symbolizing rhythm.7

These closed systems can then adopt other codes from non-design systems to help reduce the parameters of the design medium. In this argument, the non-design codes come from film and attempt to focus architecture on a specific narrative within the built environment. Design has different sets of codes, codes that are exclusive to design, codes that are shared by various cultural systems, and codes that are crucial to one system but participate in another through a shared characteristic.3 It is through the former, called “regulating codes,” that architecture can relate to non-design systems, such as film. The codes that are exclusive to design help to maintain the parameters of the closed system, which in turn preserves the identity of the medium.4 The shared codes contain multiple specificities and can help translate other codes from one system (such as architecture) to another (such as film) and vice versa. 3


Agrest, Diana. "Design versus Non-Design." Architecture Theory since 1968. By Michael K. Hays. Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1998. p. 201 Ibid. Ibid., p. 202 4 Ibid. 2 3

These processes of symbolization are either metaphoric or metonymic, and reveal “the way in which design maintains its limits in relation to culture and acts as a filter in relation to meaning.”8 Agrest looks specifically at metaphoric and metonymic operations that actually produce meaning. Metaphors deal specifically in relations of similarity and metonymy with relations of contiguity. Architecture relates to other cultural systems through these two operations. It is “a game of substitutions which…explains at the most specific level of form the translation from extra-architectural to intra-architectural systems in a recording which…maintains the limits of architecture.”9

5 6 7 8 9

Ibid. Ibid., p. 201 Ibid., p. 203 Ibid. Ibid.

Fernando Schapo “Le Corbusier’s Convent of La Tourette”i Iannis Xenakis, Le Corbusier’s protege, has been credited with the design, applying both Le Corbusier’s Modular system and concepts of music, such as rhythm and harmony, to the design.


These metaphors are a “mechanism for contact between different cultural systems” and help filter codes in the “substitutive relation between architecture and other systems.”10 These connections of code can come from similarities of function or from common elements, such as the function of ‘storytelling’ or the element of ‘sequence.’ In this argument, the elements of film, defined by Gilles Deleuze and examined later in the paper, become the code connections needed to establish the relationship between film and architecture. In Agrest’s essay, she cites Corbusier’s use of geometry in his urban proposals as an example of the adoption of one set of cultural codes into the architecture system. Geometry has often been used in architecture in the form of regulating lines, etc. which can be seen in the drawings and representations of architecture, but are more subtly applied in the built structure. In Corbusier’s plans, the geometry used as an “instrument of representation” becomes a key feature of the physical construction.11 Geometry takes precedence in the drawings and manifests itself as the city grid. Geometry is used not only for its functional aspect, but also for its symbolic code. Geometry suggests cleanliness and order, things Corbusier was attempting to emphasize in his urban plan, and become the grid, which takes on the symbolic codes of geometry. “Geometry itself represents the symbolic aspect of form, and carries with it an entire set of implicit values.”12 Metaphor acts as a “translating device” to relate other codes to those of architecture. It takes these codes and puts them into terms that can then be adopted into the architectural system. Metaphors define “the field of ‘the possible’” by precisely filtering the amount of code being related (through cultural language) and setting definite limits.13 In this way, metaphor is used as a reductive process in regards to other cultural systems. It uses common 5

10 Ibid., p. 204 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid., p. 204-205 13

Ibid., p. 206

functionality and desired implications and can draw from other systems the codes that create those effects. It is possible to provide further limitation on the extents of the architectural project and what it is attempting to do. This ‘limitation’ of the conversation is rather a focus or the establishment of a more specific design outcome or strategy. Even in cases where metaphors have been used in an attempt to open architecture to multiple systems (rather than reduce it to smaller parts of code) it becomes reductive. It is too difficult to adopt all of the codes and systems, therefore the metaphor can only help to limit the conversation, rather than expand it.14 In the case of film and architecture, the use of common elements provides an opportunity to create a highly focused narrative experience within a building. The ‘limitation’ or focus of the architectural project and its goals creates a highly focused outcome. The non-design codes are different from the design codes, in that they lack a fixed meaning. Design is a social practice; it is considered an “institution” which has a set of texts that helps create a fixed meaning and interpretation.15 Non-design codes are constantly changing based on their relation to each other. It is a series of open systems which each has their own codes that define their system, as opposed to elaborating on their relationships to other systems. However, at the level of codes, the relationship between the systems is visible and reveal how nondesign systems are woven into the built environment.16 In the world of ideology, these codes can be related and exchanged across system boundaries, and therefore adopted metaphorically into architecture. It is by creating these chains of exchanges in meaning, where “one object may be substituted for another beyond its ‘functional’ use-value,” that it is possible to 14 15 16

Ibid., p. 205 Ibid., p. 207 Ibid.

Le Corbusier’s “La planimetria della Ville Radieuse”ii


connect multiple codes together.17 In design, metaphor is used in this context as both a point of departure and a final point of reading. In non-design systems, this relationship and reading is used as an expansive force, creating chains that can help reveal repressed meaning between the systems.18 These chains of meaning allow for different entry points for reading design and non-design systems; you are capable of reading the whole through different fragments of meaning, as opposed to simply design.19 In other words, it is possible to read design through many different cultural lenses, which apply metaphors to distill meanings and relate design to the rest of culture. Agrest defines instances where multiple lenses can be used to read a work as “nodes.” These nodes contain multiple codes, both design and non-design, coexisting together in layers.20 These nodes present opportunities to dissect the layers of code in various ways, creating multiple readings, which can be combined and articulated. For examples, in Sergei Eisenstein’s essay “Piranesi,” he analyzes one of Piranesi’s etchings through the lens of cinematography, applying new meaning to the work and creating a dissolution of ideological limits of architecture.21 Eisenstein views Piranesi’s etchings as exploding in a kind of paradoxical, cinematographic way, as a sequence of images compounded together rather than one two-dimensional image. This type of analysis exemplifies the richness available by viewing architecture through the lens of film. Although his analysis is only of a two dimensional representation of architecture, the depth of analysis is still applicable. Eisenstein is able to analyze the work in this way by first finding commonalities between the mediums and building upon them, as Agrest suggests in her essay. In order to create this relationship between film and architecture as a whole, we must 7

17 Ibid., 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid., 20 Ibid. 21

p. 208 p. 209

Ibid., p. 208-209

also find these commonalities to begin establishing the metaphor. This metaphorical relationship will rely on the comparison of both functions and common elements. Both mediums have the common elements of time and movement, which places both mediums in the realm of sequential art (stringing together certain moments in a specific order to project a certain experience). This can also transition into a comparison of functions. For this argument the common function being analyzed is the idea of storytelling or narrative. Film is almost purely storytelling, where all moves within the creation and execution of the film strive to emphasize the larger narrative. Architecture can tell a story, but it is more difficult because of the limitations of the architectural language. Therefore, the common function is narrative, which is emphasized through the common elements of movement and time, which will lead to greater commonalities later.

Diagram by Eisenstein of Piranesi's Carcere Oscura. iii

Giovanni Batista Piranesi, Carcere Oscura ("The Dark Prison"), ca.1745. iv


Movement. Movement is, perhaps, the most easily related element between film and architecture so we will begin the relationship there. Movement as defined by Henri Bergson is “a change of position [in space] and a change of state in time (or mobility).”22 This definition refers to the physical movement of an object in sequential positions over a certain amount of time. This definition depicts movement in a flip book style, essentially a series of still images taken at equal moments from a stationary camera, giving the perception of movement but not actually depicting movement. Bergson claims this is false movement because the movement does not occur within the images, but is applied to the images by transitioning to the next image. Therefore, this series of still images captured at equidistant moments is only an illusion of movement, not a true capturing of movement.23 Gilles Deleuze contradicts Bergson’s argument by transitioning into the era of film as we know it today, with a film camera shooting at 24 frames per second. He claims that these films are not depictions of false movement where abstract movement is applied to still images, but rather that these films are “movement-images.” In a movement-image the movement is no longer applied to the images, rather the movement is intrinsic in the transitions between the images.24 Deleuze explains that this difference is most easily explained by the introduction of a mobile camera. The images are no longer still images of moving objects, but moving images of moving objects.25 Deleuze claims that in this iteration of film each image reveals a change in form of the “whole,” or the film universe being created, referring to Bergson’s definition of movement as a ‘change of state in time.’26 With each passing frame, the state of the universe of the film is changed. Deleuze argues that as we move and change positions within space, we also change the state of the ‘whole’ we occupy simply by interacting with it.27 9

22 E. Steirou. Searching for the Lost Time of Architecture... 23 Gilles Deleuze. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. p. 2 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid., p. 3 26

In Cinema. p. 2

E. Steirou. Searching for the Lost Time of Architecture... In Cinema. p. 2

Bergson’s understanding of movement as both a change in position of an object and a change of state in time, as Bergson defined them, relates to Deleuze’s definition of the most basic elements of film: the frame, the shot, and editing. The frame and the shot are the most critical to understanding movement, editing will come in later. The first element, the frame, is considered a closed system, which includes the image within the frame (as well as aspects occurring off-screen). The movement of the frame opens the closed system to the film universe.28 The movement of the frame is essentially the movement of the camera itself, capturing specific actions in the narrative. The second element is the shot, which is the movement within the closed system of the frame. The shot functions to show the changing positions of objects within the frame (movement as a change in position in space), as well as record the changes made to the whole universe of the film (movement as the change of state in time). The difference in Bergson’s experience of film and movement versus Deleuze’s is the ability to have a moving frame. The moving frame creates dual movement which adds complexity and greater depth to the architecture and film relationship. In film the camera acts as the frame which captures the action (the shot) as dictated by a director. In architecture the frame is actually the view of the person experiencing a space, while the shot is the ‘action’ created by the architect for the viewer to see. This distinction will come up later with the discussion of editing and will be important to the application of film to architecture. Both Bergson’s and Deleuze’s views of movement rely on specific definitions of time, which must be explored to help develop an understanding of film and architecture.

27 28

Gilles Deleuze. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. p. 10 Ibid., p. 3

Eadweard Muybridge's The Horse in Motion, 1878. v


Time. Time itself is a difficult concept, drawing it into the equation leads to complexity. The first instance of time to consider is simply the passage of time. This is the physical passage of time Bergson refers to as ‘duration,’ or quantitative time. This is the definition of time Bergson refers to in his first definition of movement: movement as a change in position over a certain duration. Time passes while you are within a building and also while you are watching a film (referring to the time passing for the viewer). This physical time is the simplest to understand, particularly in relation to movement. Then second instance is the passage of time within the narrative. In a film this is simply the progression of the narrative over the course of the film. In some films it may be two hours, in others it is 100 years, regardless, there is a narrative that is linked to some passage of time within the film universe. Therefore, in film, narrative time acts as a filter of information, limiting the storyline to a specific period or to specific events. In a sense, it is a temporal vessel, containing only the parts of the film universe necessary to the storyline itself. In architecture there can also be a narrative time separate from the individual experience that can limit the architectural storyline. Defining narrative time as the temporal vessel that limits the narrative experience helps create a metaphorical relationship to architecture. The vessel which limits the narrative experience of an architectural project is the building itself, as it also limits the amount of experiential information provided to the viewer. Unlike a film, however, the narrative time is not controlled by the director (or in this case architect), but rather is out of the architect’s control as soon as the building is completed. The narrative time becomes independent of both architect and viewer. In a sense, the ‘film universe’ that is the building begins to determine how its story should be told. As the building ages and is changed, damaged, or otherwise altered by outside forces it directly effects the narrative originally structured by 11


Ibid., p. 2

the architect. This can add richness and complexity to the architectural as a whole and even alter the narrative over time. The first two instances of time deal with a physical understandings of time. We have the physical time experienced by the person (or duration), and the narrative time which relates to some physical time, whether through the time line of a story or the time line of a building itself. The third instance of time is perceived time. This is a virtual instance of time which is independent from physical time, which we will call ‘montage time.’ Montage refers to a series of film editing techniques which will be discussed later on, for now we will think of it simply as a way of manipulating the perception of time through editing moments together into one sequence. Montage time combines the narrative time (or the duration of the storyline) with elements of the past, and possibly the future, to deepen the story and make connections that emphasize the larger narrative points. In a film this occurs as flashbacks, flash-forwards, and even lengthening of sequences to emphasize a moment. These sequences can be powerful and even pivotal to the narrative development of a film, providing back story and even foreshadowing as well as accentuating important moments in the storyline. Once again, in film this is directly controlled by the director. In architecture this montaging occurs within the head of the individual experiencing the space. They interject bits of recollection, perhaps even moments of inspiration or imagination in which a person is projecting a future experience, into their experience of a built environment in real time, which distorts the physical time being experienced and interrupts the narrative time being created. Unlike film where there is a director, editor, or both controlling this montage time line, in architecture this effect is completely outside of the control of the architect and happens sporadically.

Eadweard Muybridge's The Horse in Motion analysis infographic, 1878. vi


Editing. This breakdown in the metaphor calls into question the relationship of the director and architect to their subsequent audiences as well as the last of Deleuze’s elements of film: editing. Deleuze states that editing determines the whole of the film universe “by means of continuities, cutting and false continuities,” and by composing shots in a way that creates a new open system, or whole. In film this is controlled by the director or editor and is experienced by the viewer, who has no direct control. Editing gives the director/editor control over the physical duration of the film, narrative time of the film, and even the montage time. In essence, film editing deals directly with the manipulation of time. In architecture, this manipulation is entirely out of the control of the architect. Once the initial design is completed the narrative time becomes independent, directly related to forces outside the architect’s control. The physical time a person is in the space is also outside the architect’s control, although it can be more easily manipulated through architectural ‘editing’ techniques, as discussed later. The montage time dwells directly inside the head of the person experiencing the space and is most likely subconscious, and therefore outside of the viewer’s direct control as well. Although these breakdowns in control suggest a breakdown in architectural narrative, they can actually become enriching elements to the narrative, allowing a person to develop a deeper connection to the space.


Vakulinchuk’s Decision montage from The Battleship Potemkin (1925) Directed by Sergei Eisenstein. vii


Sequence. The culmination of Deleuze’s elements, frame, shot, and editing, and the concepts of time and movement is sequence. Sequence is imperative to narrative as it illustrates connections between moments and develops those connections into meaning. In film, sequence is highly edited and specific and, when combined with other elements such as music, etc.., becomes a powerful and meaningful story (or moment). In architecture, sequence is often thought of as a path through a building or a series of spaces, whose relation and order come from programmatic need. It can be embellished or emphasized, but it is often an order-of-operations approach or a time line more so than a true narrative, which invokes recollection and projection. It is difficult to create a true narrative because the architectural language is limited in comparison to film (which can utilize dialogue, images, music, etc.); however, architecture can begin to tell the story using the symbolic meanings of architectural elements. Symbolism can only communicate so much, therefore the specific sequence of elements becomes imperative to any attempt at creating architectural narrative. This careful crafting of a sequence in a building is when the architect truly has the opportunity to take on the role of director and attempt to predict and construct a narrative. Once this narrative is complete, however, the architect loses control and the viewer takes on the role as editor and interpreter. As the viewer brings their own personal experiences and interpretations into the narrative structure the experience transitions from a more prescribed communal experience 15

into a highly personal one. This is both a challenge of the architectural narrative and an opportunity to utilize both personal and communal elements of experience to create a richer narrative. In order to delve deeper into this relationship we must first look to the writings of Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet filmmaker and film theorist credited with analyzing and popularizing the concept of montage.

Bernard Tschumi. Screenplays (The Fight), 1977. viii


Montage. Eisenstein defines montage as a carefully edited string of images placed in a specific sequence to connect and emphasize complex ideas within a film. Montage is thought to be the intellectual basis of all films and is emphasized as the most powerful method of communicating ideas, more so than the content of the film itself. Montage allows for a deeper understanding of thematic elements, but in an indirect sense, making it a valuable point to analyze for translating film into architecture. Eisenstein’s essay, “Method of Montage,” creates and analyzes five levels of montage, which can be built on each other to create various effects physiologically, emotionally, and intellectually. He first looks at the physiological effects of rhythm through metric and rhythmic montage. Metric montage focuses on the duration of pieces of film strung together in a formula-scheme resembling measures in music, where the movement of the image is in the rhythm of the montage itself.30 In rhythmic montage the movement comes from both the montage images and their content, creating a more complex physiological sequence that transcends into emotional responses.31 The next set of methods deal specifically with the emotional affects or viewer’s perceptions from the montage, called tonal and over tonal montage. Tonal montage looks at movement in a “wider sense” as emotional movement and not simply the shifting of the frame or motion within the frame.32 Instead tonal montage focuses on the characteristics of mood and tone as opposed to spatial-rhythmic characteristics.33 17

30 Eisenstein, Sergei. 31 Ibid., p. 80 32 Ibid., p. 75-76 33


“Method of Montage.” Film Form ; The Film Sense. New York: Meridian, 1957. p. 72-73

Over tonal montage looks at the physiological perception of an emotional response, and is essentially the calculation of the effect of all the previous methods collectively.34 Often these reactions come from the combination of narrative themes and symbolism within the montage. Eisenstein’s example is an theme of a coming storm with the images of dark building clouds, which culminate in torrential rains. The actual narrative is looking at a building oppression that leads to a revolution. The tonal montage focuses on the building tension and emotional aspects of the storm and its implications, while the over tonal montage emphasizes the deeper emotions of oppression and revolution. Over tonal montage is used to emphasize the furthest possible developments of emotion within a montage sequence. Eisenstein’s final method is intellectual montage, which looks at all of the previous reactions at the highest level. He claims that, although these responses occur at different levels, they are “in principle” no different from one another. His statement, which is referring to the relationship between these different responses, suggests that these comparable aspects are in fact the same: “Though, as judged as ‘phenomena’ (appearances), they seem in fact different, yet from the point of view of ‘essence’ (process), they are undoubtedly identical.”35

With this argument, the combinations of these methods, which Eisenstein refers to as ‘montage constructions,’ create 34 35

Ibid., p. 78 Ibid. p. 82-83

Sergei Eisenstein’s montage structure of a sequence from Alexander Nevsky (1939) viiii


conflicting and compounding effects on each level: rhythmic, emotional, and intellectual. These conflicts and compounds build tension, which emphasizes the narrative of the montage.36 These montage constructions can be replicated through a sequence of architectural elements within a built environment to create specific responses, for example, a narrow hallway. Narrow hallways are inherently uncomfortable and create the physical response of a person speeding up. This response, similar to that of the metric and rhythmic montage, is a subconscious response that can be built upon to create emotional responses. Now the hallway is narrow and dimly lit, this creates a tone of foreboding in the space that may trigger a memory or thought in the person and elevate the tone into an emotional response. It is by recognizing this response and understanding it as a tool for the architectural narrative that a person reaches the intellectual response to the space. This becomes the architectural montage, an editing together of both architectural elements and personal experiences that create a deeper understanding of a space. The architect, as director, sets up the montage in the most rudimentary sense, facilitating the physical movement through the space and perhaps creating a general tone. The person experiencing the space than interprets that construct through the lens of their own experiences and edits together a narrative of their own making. This transition from communal narrative to personal narrative adds depth and richness to a space that would not be possible without the consideration of sequence and architectural elements in the greater architectural narrative. 19


Ibid., p. 80

The Odessa Steps montage from The Battleship Potemkin (1925) Directed by Sergei Eisenstein. x


Conclusion. Film, as a metaphor for architecture, helps bring greater depth and richness to the architectural narrative. Agrest states in her essay that the introduction of non-design codes into the design system reduces the system, as opposed to opening it to new possibilities. I believe that this assumption is poorly stated. These codes do in fact limit the system, but not to its detriment. Instead they focus the design system to create a highly specific and carefully crafted experience. In the case of film and architecture, the elements of movement and time link them and help initiate the metaphor, but it is the act of manipulating these elements that focuses the relationship. When the architect begins to design a space through the lens of film they are able to draw from the techniques of sequence and montage and create a carefully crafted experience. This allows for attention to detail, consideration of light and materiality, the symbolic message of these elements, the effects of sound within a space, and so on. By thinking like a director and not as an architect, a designer can focus their design on a specific narrative being communicated and tailor a richer experience. This focusing translates into a more cohesive structure whose purpose is clearly and specifically communicated to the user. It is the introduction of the user or viewer of the space that begins to add complexity but also further depth to the metaphor. Although it may seem that this is where the relationship begins to break down, the introduction of an active viewer (as opposed to a passive viewer in the case of film) creates opportunity for even greater depth in the architectural narrative. The architect creates this highly specific sequence through a series of assumptions in an attempt to communicate a clear idea, in essence it is a highly structured communal experience. In a similar way, a film 21

is also a communal experience, in which a group of people view the same film. In both instances there is a hoped-for response dictated by the director or architect, and in both cases there is a unique reaction to that message in each individual. It is only in the experience of architecture, however, that there is also an active creation of a new message. As an individual experiences a space they must infer from the design the architect’s meaning. Because of the limits of architecture, it is impossible to explicitly communicate an idea through architectural elements alone. This could be seen as a hindrance to communication or an opportunity for creativity. As the individual views the space they edit together their own personal montage in real time, writing their own film, in essence, and creating their own interpretations of the space. This type of active creation facilitates a deeper connection to the space. Instead of simply being told a story and reacting to it, the viewer is able to fill in the story and create their own interpretation. Architecture will never be film, however, architecture can be more than backdrop. By drawing from film to create a more holistic experience, architecture can transcend film, allowing the creation of personal narratives within the communal context. This is the richness that film provides to the practice of architecture.




Agrest, Diana. "Design versus Non-Design." Architecture Theory since 1968. By Michael K. Hays. Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1998. 198-213.


Schapo, Fernando. Le Corbusier’s Convent of La Tourette. 2010. La Tourette. ArchDaily. La Planimetria Della Ville Radieuse. 1933. Ville Radieuse. By Le Corbusier. ArchDaily. ii

Deleuze, Gilles, and Paola Marrati. Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2008.

Diagram by Eisenstein of Piranesi’s Carcere Oscura. From Eisenstein, Sergei. Piranesi…. New York: Meridian, 1957. iii

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlin and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986. Eisenstein, Sergei. “Method of Montage.” Film Form; The Film Sense. New York: Meridian, 1957.

Piranesi, Giovanni Batista. Carcere Oscura. 1745. From Eisenstein, Sergei. Piranesi…. New York: Meridian, 1957 iv

Muybridge, Eadweard. The Horse in Motion. 1878. The Library of Congress. v

Eisenstein, Sergei. Piranesi…. New York: Meridian, 1957. Muybridge, Eadweard. The Horse in Motion analysis infographic. 1878. The Library of Congress. vi

Steirou, E. Searching for the Lost Time of Architecture... In Cinema. Thesis. Thessaloniki, Greece, 2005.

Vakulinchuk’s Decision montage from The Battleship Potemkin. USSR 1925. Dir. Sergei Eisenstein. Films Inc., 1975. vii

Tschumi, Bernard. Architecture and Disjunction. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1994.

Bernard Tschumi. Screenplays (The Fight), 1977. From Tschumi, Bernard. The Manhattan Transcripts. London: Academy Editions, 1994. viii

Tschumi, Bernard. The Manhattan Transcripts. London: Academy Editions, 1994.

From Eisenstein, Sergei. “Method of Montage.” Film Form; The Film Sense. New York: Meridian, 1957. viiii

The Odessa Steps montage from The Battleship Potemkin. USSR 1925. Dir. Sergei Eisenstein. Films Inc., 1975. x



Siting the Metaphor.

Viewing Montgomery. My first impression of Montgomery was that it was an incredibly quiet city. I pulled my car into a parking spot off of Dexter Avenue, supposedly the main drag of Alabama’s capital, and immediately wondered if I wasn’t supposed to be there. Being the only car parked along a major road on a Thursday afternoon just makes you feel like you must have missed a memo or a street sign or maybe the second coming. I glanced into Irish Bred Pub to see if there was some sign that could tell me what was going on. Instead I made eyes with a very bored hostess who confirmed for me that yes, I was allowed to park here and yes, it was always this empty. I grabbed my camera and began to walk. On every corner there was a plaque commemorating some historic moment in the Civil Rights movement or the former location of a slave trade post. Talk about juxtaposition. Here on this grand empty street lined with shiny white buildings history was made and then, it would seem, history stopped. This was the Montgomery I faced as a young soon-tobe architect trying to do something good and noble for a city I barely knew. So I did the only thing I knew how to do, I looked for something positive, something lovely and good to focus my attention on and I ran with it. I am not so naive to believe that architecture can solve the wounds of the world. However, I am naive enough to believe that architecture can shine light on the world and show others the beauty and potential of their surroundings. 27

I think Montgomery needs a little more of this light.

So I pulled out my camera and I looked for the things I found beautiful and unique and worthy of some extra attention: alleyways overrun with vines, graffiti on white-washed walls, stained glass and iron and walls scarred by their neighbors who have long since left them. These marks have become the backdrop of everyday life. They are the scars of the city that have survived both failures and triumphs. They make up the identity of Montgomery and represent the moments in time that have shaped the city’s story. So rather than paying homage to the city’s grand historic structures and controversial history. I chose to commemorate the city in its present form, as the scarred and healing place it is, in desperate need of some reconciliation. The past can not be avoided, but it is also too big to be confronted. Instead Montgomery needed something to remind them of where they have been and, more importantly, where they are going. I chose a site right off of Dexter Avenue along South Perry Street. On either side of this infill lot are historic buildings with layers of history in their exposed brick walls. When I saw them I recognized the pieces of Montgomery I wanted to focus on and decided it was the right place to be. Across the street are several small buildings recently renovated into homes by optimistic locals. Next door is a new marketing firm that has taken over the alleyway to create an outdoor dining space complete with bright graffiti. There is already hope among this history and it seemed like the right place to set up camp and add a bit of my own positivity to the mix.


Graffiti along South Perry Street


Street Elevation including site (camera facing West).

Meeting brick along South Perry Street

Vines overtaking the alley off of South Perry Street.

Alley facade off of South Perry Street.

Street Elevation opposite the site. (camera facing East).



Front Elevation of neighboring building left of site.

Front Elevation of neighboring building right of site.



Side Elevation of neighboring building facing into the site.

Side Elevation of neighboring building facing into the site.


Zoning. The Perry Street site is an infill site in a T5 Urban Zone. It is 80 feet wide and 100 feet deep, making it a practical choice for placing a building and still having some space for a courtyard or other outdoor space. In order to preserve the neighboring walls I chose to focus on, I absorbed the neighboring buildings into my programming. I propose to renovate the interiors of these structures while still preserving the exterior shells. Greenspaces are allowed in the T5 zone, although edge yards are prohibited (an edge yard is defined as being pulled off the property line on all faces 10 feet). A maximum of 10 stories is allowed on a T5 urban zone with a maximum of 14 feet per floor height.


Setbacks. For the new construction in the infill site I propose a two story gallery space which is connected to the neighboring buildings (a combination of office and retail and a coffee shop, respectively). The building will feature two courtyards, one along the northwestern edge of the site and one off the main sidewalk on the southeastern corner. The site is 8,000 square feet approximately with an 80% maximum occupancy. This leaves approximately a 6,400 square foot footprint for the building. By incorporating the two courtyards and pulling the new structure off of the neighboring walls by two feet, the building’s footprint is approximately 5,100 square feet. The two story structure is therefore 10,200 square feet in total.


The Poetry Foundation

John Ronan Associated Architects || Chicago The Poetry Foundation contains a small office for a poetry magazine as well as a library, auditorium and lobby space, which doubles as an event space. The multiple program typologies and small footprint made it a useful precedent for a two story infill site. The ability to maintain street presence while also providing a peaceful outdoor space was also important for my site and program.

TOTAL AREA: 26,000 sf library theater 7% 10% 37

core | BOH hospitality 18% 16%

gallery 5%

offices | administration 44%


The Whitney Museum Renzo Piano || New York City

The Whitney Museum combined multiple program types (such as office space, education space, and the main gallery spaces) making it a useful precedent. It also provided outdoor space in the form of a plaza as well as various terraces.

TOTAL AREA: 81,000 sf edu | lib theat 6.5% 2% 39

core | BOH 14%

gallery 62%

food 2%

offices 14%


Jule Collins Smith Museum Gresham, Smith and Partners || Auburn

The Jules Collins Museum’s small scale served as a good local precedent. It also acts as a gallery and event space for local events and has various outdoor spaces connected to it.

TOTAL AREA: 15,500 sf

theater BOH 11% 9%

multipurpose 14% 41

hosp 3%

gallerycafe 58% 5%



Other Case Studies

These other projects helped provide insight into the program type.

ICA Boston || Diller Scofidio + Renfro

High Museum || Richard Meier

circulation sequence and scale

circulation and program

Guggenheim Museum || Frank Lloyd Wright

EYE Dutch Film Institute || Delugan Meissi

circulation and program

program type and lobby space 44




office lobby

office space

retail space

gallery offices







PROGRAMMING office space

retail space





Testing the Metaphor.

Sequence as Catharsis. In order to best test my hypothesis that the application of elements and processes of film into architecture can produce a deeper emotional response in those who occupy the space, I needed a typology and location that provided me with the right set of opportunities. I chose the site off of Perry Street because of its proximity to the historical and political downtown and a burgeoning creative area. The site also featured examples of the city’s scars I had chosen to focus on when I initially visited the site. The program of a gallery space allowed for some freedom in size and circulation, which was necessary for testing ideas of sequence and montage in the project, and created an interesting storyline: juxtaposing the decaying surroundings of the city alongside the hopeful creations of its residents. I found this juxtaposition intriguing for the ‘storyline’ of the building. In a way, I believe that by viewing the past alongside the present and, in some ways, the future, people are able to come to terms with Montgomery as it was and is and look forward to Montgomery’s future. Essentially, this montage of views created within the building creates a catharsis for the residents who experience it.



Ground Floor. In order to enter the building you must pass through the screen which protects the courtyard from the main city. You then enter into the lobby space off of the courtyard and turn right to enter through the main gallery. In the north building the ground floor is divided between an office lobby space and a retail space, which I programmed as an art supply store with a classroom space in the rear. There is also storage for the gallery and retail spaces. In the south building the ground floor is a cafe or small restaurant with a small kitchen and bar area, complete with bar seating. In the rear off the alleyway is a fenced in seating area for outdoor dining.


Second Floor. The second floor of the main building is a continued gallery space which opens into a larger gathering area along the northern windows which face the neighboring brick wall. There is also an outdoor terrace which overlooks the courtyard and connections to the northern building. The passthroughs into the northern building lead to a gallery-affiliated bookstore. Off the main retail space are private offices for gallery employees which connect to an open office space which could be used as a co working space for creative businesses. The southern building connects to the main building through a bridge on the alley side. The main volume is more dining space for the cafe.


Views. The diagrams to the right represent the sequential experience of the building. You begin by entering the courtyard off of the street and passing next to the brick wall of the neighboring building. You then pass through the courtyard, into the lobby of the gallery, and begin the main experience. As you pass through the gallery you are able to view both artwork and snapshots of the exterior, framing the walls of the neighboring buildings as art. You then walk upstairs where you continue the sequence of art views and exterior views. You catch your first glimpse of the rear wall through a large glazed wall at this point and then enter a terrace which faces the courtyard. After reentering the building you flow through a bookstore space and then back downstairs along the glazing window. You then complete the gallery sequence and enter the rear courtyard where you are able to approach and examine the rear wall in full. After completing the sequence you reenter the main lobby and exit through the courtyard, passing once again along the neighboring brick wall.




The sequence through the gallery montages artwork and exterior views.

This sequence culminates in a view of the rear exterior wall of the neighboring building.


Materiality. In order to relate to the neighboring historic structures, the new building is made of a gray stone cut to standard brick dimensions. This continues the scale and pattern of the neighboring buildings without mimicking them. The screen is made of CorTen steel expanded metal panels which rust into a warm orange color. The color also draws from the warm reds and oranges of the neighboring buildings’ brick without mimicking the color directly. The expanded metal also allows for greenery and vines to grow up them as they have the surrounding buildings. Combined, the materials observe and relate to their surroundings indirectly. This allows for the building to blend in scale and materiality, while still clearly standing out amongst the surrounding buildings as a new structure. With time, the weathering of the stone and the growth of greenery will allow the building to blend in more naturally with its surroundings.



Sections. The site slopes approximately three feet from north to south, creating complexity in matching the floor heights of the new structure with its neighbors. The two neighboring buildings also had different floor heights. The slope, however, accounted for the difference in height allowing for the three separate buildings to connect through bridges and passthroughs on the second floor. These sections reveal those differences in height and slope while also allowing glimpses into the interior spaces in the main gallery.



Structure. In order to relate to the neighboring buildings, the main structure is load bearing masonry. The exterior is sheathed with the gray stones which connect to a 12 inch concrete masonry block wall. The CMU is filled with concrete and reinforced with steel, acting as the main structure. The interior face is made of a metal stud wall sheathed with plywood to allow more options for hanging art in the gallery space. The interior face is finished with a layer of gypsum board. The interior flooring is hardwood floors on top of the concrete flat plate. A series of columns and beams on the interior support the roof and floors and a drop ceiling conceals the mechanical systems and lighting systems in the gallery space. There is a four foot parapet on the roof, which is in compliance with the T5 urban zoning code. The two glazing walls on the building are self-supported with 12 inch deep steel mullions as structure. The glass sits within a channel on the mullions creating a clean look on the exterior. The screen is likewise supported with 18 inch deep mullions and 12 inch deep cross-bracing. The screen then clips onto the steel using steel bolts.




This section perspective shows the main gallery spaces and entryway.

This section perspective shows the courtyard and the double height space surrounding the main stair.


Thank You. Lauren Lloyd

Profile for Lauren Lloyd

Film and Architecture: Seeking a Better Metaphor for Experience  

This is my thesis book, comprised of my full thesis paper, final design project, and several siting & programmatic studies. For this project...

Film and Architecture: Seeking a Better Metaphor for Experience  

This is my thesis book, comprised of my full thesis paper, final design project, and several siting & programmatic studies. For this project...