Happy 113th Birthday Alfred Hitchcock, Master Architect of Suspense

. Photo via Wikimedia CC User El Matador.

Alred Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980), who would have turned 113 today, is often known as the “Master of Suspense.” But we here at ArchDaily would like to tweak that moniker slightly, to the Master Architect of Suspense.

Hitchcock, who actually worked as a set designer in the 1920s, not only maintained meticulous control over his film sets as a director (many of which were mounted in studio), but incorporated many architectural themes into the narratives themselves.

More on Hitchcock’s use of Architecture, after the break…

Shot from Hitchcock’s film .

One author, Steven Jacobs, even wrote an entire book (The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcockabout Hitchock’s use of architecture, in complement to camera movements, editing, and other cinematographic practices, to heighten the viewer’s sense of anxiety, fear, or empathyThe publisher’s review extrapolates:

“some remarkable single-set films, such as Rope and Rear Window, [...] explicitly deal with the way the confines of the set relate to those of the architecture on screen. Spaces of confinement also turn up in the ‘Gothic plot’ of films in which the house is presented as an uncanny labyrinth and a trap. Furthermore, it became a Hitchcock hallmark to use famous monuments as the location for a climactic scene. Last but not least, Hitchcock used architectural motifs such as stairs and windows, which are closely connected to Hitchcockian narrative structures (suspense) or typical Hitchcock themes (voyeurism).”

We’ve featured Rear Window in our Films & Architecture series, but we’d love to know which are your favorite architecturally-inspired Hitchcock classics, and why. Let us know in the comments below!

Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "Happy 113th Birthday Alfred Hitchcock, Master Architect of Suspense" 13 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=262818>
  • brb001

    Newsflash: Hitchcock was a film director, not an architect.

    • john b

      please read the article, before commenting

      • brb001

        I did read the article. Everything written could be said about nearly any accomplished film director.

        It’s just sad that ArchDaily has to resort to name dropping to drum up hits rather than focusing on their core content.

  • http://www.archdaily.com David Basulto


    Architecte is informed by many other fields. The relation between architecture and movies is very strong. As you say, our core is architecture… and architects and everything that can be of interest to us.


  • Allison W

    The fictitious Vandamm House in North by Northwest is a fabulous creation of mid century modern architecture which I enjoy as much as the film itself