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The Architecture of Thrill: How Hitchcock Inspires Spatial Effects

Since the 2007-2008 academic year, the Ethics class at the School of Architecture (UIC Barcelona, Spain) has analyzed the cinematographic works of Alfred Hitchcock through the lens of architectural planning. In the following analysis by the class's two professors -- art theorist and historian Alfons Puigarnau and architect Ignacio Infiesta -- space is thought of as scenography, and the visual strategy is analyzed in relation to the script and the soundtrack with the intention of creating a deliberate atmosphere of suspense.

Geared for third year architecture students, this class studies the film director's vision as if it were one of the instruments guiding an architect's design. It's part of an analogy between the camera lens, which uses light, and the architect's pencil, which makes use of outlines. In fact, Hitchcock always emphasized the visual over the dialogue [1]. 

Learn more about the work of the students at the School of Architecture UIC after the break.

Psycho: Marta Delgado. Image Courtesy of Ethics Course, School of Architecture UIC Psycho: Lea Credidio. Image Courtesy of Ethics Course, School of Architecture UIC Psycho: Moises Shabot. Image Courtesy of Ethics Course, School of Architecture UIC Psycho: Sergi Viñals. Image Courtesy of Ethics Course, School of Architecture UIC

ARCHIDIRECTOR: A Fantastical City Inspired by Famous Directors by Federico Babina

"Directors are like the architects of cinema," says Federico Babina, an Italian architect known for his imaginative architecture-inspired illustrations. In his latest, Babina envisions a fictional city of 27 houses inspired by film's most celebrated directors, including George Lucas, Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Wim Wenders and many others.

"The architecture is like a scene from a movie where the story is the life, the script is dictated by the use of the building and where the actors are the residents. A labyrinth where all - characters, director, audience –are lost and found in the intensity of their emotions," Babina adds. 

Tour through the entire city, after the break. 

© Federico Babina © Federico Babina © Federico Babina © Federico Babina

INTERIORS: The Monthly Zine Mapping Film's Fascinating Spaces

Originally appearing on Metropolis as A Pair of Artists Use Architecture to Study Film, Colin Warren-Hicks profiles "Interiors", a monthly zine that analyzes important spaces in Films and TV through reconstructed architectural plans - and whose creators also contribute to Archdaily on a monthly basis

Can a good film director be a good architect? That's the premise behind Interiors, a monthly online zine that critically investigates the link between film and architecture. Each issue breaks down, in architectural notation, a memorable set or scene from a movie or television series. (Lately, the subjects have expanded to include a Justin Timberlake music video and even a stage from Kanye West's Yeezus tour.) The diagrams are accompanied by a lengthy essay that supplements the spatial analysis.

Read more about "Interiors" - and see a collection of plans produced for the journal - after the break

Up, Issue 15. Image Courtesy of Interiors Journal Dial M for Murder, Issue 22. Image Courtesy of Interiors Journal Le mépris (Contempt), Issue 2. Image Courtesy of Interiors Journal Psycho, Issue 10. Compare the floor of Room 1 of the Bates Motel with that found in Steven Jacobs's book, The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock. Image Courtesy of Interiors Journal

The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock

Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as "Hitchcock and the Architecture of Suspense," this article by Samuel Medina reviews Steven Jacobs' book The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock, which uses expert analysis and reconstructed floor plans to examine how the master created suspense with his sets.

In the films of Alfred Hitchcock, things happen, but the events that gave rise to them are easily forgotten. You quickly forget how A leads to B or, say, by what elaborate means Roger Thornhill ends up at Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest. But as the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard observed, the Hitchcockian cinema compels not with story, but with images—the open-palmed hand reaching for the door, the simulated fall down the staircase, the whorling retreat of the camera from a dead woman’s face. These stark snippets imbue the films with their uncanny allure and imprint themselves in the mind of the spectator much more effectively than any of the master’s convoluted plots.

Read on for more on the role architecture plays in Hitchcock's films

Films & Architecture: "North by Northwest"

Our latest movie in our Films & Architecture series is another ’60s classic, this time by the master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. In North by Northwest we see a New York in the heyday of its architectural glory, with one scene taking place at a newly constructed United Nations building. In fact, the last scene takes place in a “house” that, under Hitchcock’s instructions, was meant to seem designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (in reality, the house was just another set design). The film shows a variety of urban spaces, and puts special emphasis on the contrast between the densities of  urban and rural realms.

As always, enjoy and comment!

Happy 113th Birthday Alfred Hitchcock, Master Architect of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock. Photo via Wikimedia CC User El Matador.
Alfred Hitchcock. 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…