Films & Architecture: “Gattaca”

Two weeks ago we started proposing films relevant to our field for you to primarily enjoy and also to encourage its discussion. First with “The Belly of an Architect”, and then “Blade Runner”, this week is the turn for a slightly more contemporary movie written and directed by Andrew Niccol, Gattaca. The film presents a future were the human condition is already defined in DNA, therefore human’s opportunities for life development are pre-established. Beyond the interesting ethical issue, the architecture where this story occurs is carefully selected in order to fit the director’s image of the future. Locations include the Marin County Civic Center by and the CLA Building by Antoine Predock.


Original Title: Gattaca
Year: 1997
Runtime: 106 min.
Country: United States
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Soundtrack: Django Reinhardt & Jacques Larue, Charlie Haden, Stan Getz
Photography Director: Jordan Cronenweth
Cast: , Uma Thurman, Gore Vidal, Xander Berkeley, Jayne Brook, Loren Dean, Maya Rudolph


In the near future, where corporations screen their employees based on their genetic makeup, a man with a congenital heart condition tries to assume the identity of a former athlete with perfect genes in order to fulfill his dream of traveling in space. Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a genetically inferior “in-valid”.

He decides to fight his fate by purchasing the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a laboratory-engineered “valid.” He assumes Jerome’s DNA identity and joins the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (Uma Thurman). An investigation into the death of a Gattaca officer (Gore Vidal) complicates Vincent’s plans.


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Cite: Portilla, Daniel. "Films & Architecture: “Gattaca”" 22 May 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • CK

    A good choice and a good film. And a great idea for a series.

    Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt” would be a fine addition, with its wonderful scenes of Casa Malaparte:

    • Daniel Portilla

      Thank you for the recommendation, we will check it and add it to the list.

  • Mauro Franco

    Don’t forget: My Architect, from Kahn’s son.

    • Daniel Portilla

      Don’t worry. It is already on the list ;)

  • Na

    I’m a huge fan of this movie and already watched it over 100 times!The buildings reminded me the 80′s modern architectural but I like the use of clean lines in structures without any exaggeration about the future!

  • bLogHouse

    one of the best futuristic ‘film noir’ movies. the title is a made-up word containing the four DNA bases – G,A,T and C

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  • Max

    -Vinset, how are you doing this?!
    -Do you wont to know how I have done this evrething?!
    I’ve never saved anything to swim back…

    GREATEST movie ever!!!

  • Axio

    Might I suggest Panic Room? The architecture itself is nothing to write home about, just a standard NYC brownstone. But the WAY the space and architecture is used/filmed to tell the story is really quite amazing. The architecture is almost its own character.

  • bLogHouse

    May I suggest another movie, written by Andrew Niccol – The Truman Show. The movie is shot in Seaside, Florida (designed by A. Duany and E. Plater-Zyberk) and is the best critique of New Urbanism ever.

  • Gilach

    Gattaca is so great and inspirational movie, it was also one of the triggers of my passion for architecture !

    I would also like to suggest “L.A. Confidential”, exceptional movie itself with some great scenes featuring Richard Neutra’s Lovell House in Malibu ;)