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Documentary

'Tuscanyness' Film Explores the Detachment of Modern Italian Architecture and the Fight to Restore Faith in Design

06:00 - 16 February, 2018

Following the evolution of architecture in Tuscany, this documentary maps out the decline of the region in the shadow of Brunelleschi and Alberti. From the 14th century onwards, Italy underwent a cultural rebirth that changed the entire world, bearing the architectural mastery of the Renaissance. However now, there appears to be a detachment within modern architecture and little work for the many architects who are being forced to emigrate.

Watch the Construction of Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum Tower in This Full PBS Documentary

12:00 - 15 February, 2018
Watch the Construction of Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum Tower in This Full PBS Documentary

As one of Zaha Hadid's final projects, One Thousand Museum Tower in Miami, approaches completion (having topped out just last month), a new documentary on its construction has been released by PBS. 

The building was the subject of the season premier of "Impossible Builds," which profiles "the creation of some of the world’s most ambitious, complex and technologically advanced construction projects." 

Described by the show as "one of the most complex skyscrapers ever to make it off the drawing board," the 62-story tower features a unique glass fiber reinforced concrete exoskeleton – a system never before seen at this scale.

The show is now available to watch in its entirety online. Check it out below!

Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2018

08:00 - 8 January, 2018
Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2018

The new year is here! And with it, a new slate of documentaries we're dying to see.

Of all the media forms, film seems to be the most adept at making a personal connection with viewers, offering a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of a great architect, the construction, and performance of a project or an issue that is confronting the entire architecture community. This year's films are no exception, as we get the chance to learn about the daily routines of Bjarke Ingels and Paulo Mendes da Rocha, projects by Tadao Ando and Glenn Murcutt, and the troubles of urbanization and gentrification.

Check out this year's list below, and find more great architecture documentaries with our Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2017Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2015, our top 40 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2014, and our 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013.

Documentary Hopes to Save Chicago's "Starship," the Thompson Center, from Demolition

09:30 - 28 November, 2017

In the midst of the tall, rectilinear skyscrapers which make up downtown Chicago appears a short, sloped glass curtain wall, topped by a protruding truncated cylinder structure: Helmut Jahn’s Thompson Center. Opened in 1985, the building was to be home for a variety of agencies of the State of Illinois, and its design was a play off of the traditional American statehouse, updated with glass walls symbolizing government transparency and an immense atrium evoking the atrium spaces found in most United States’ statehouses. The interior spaces, however, stirred further contention with the public. Unconventional red, blue, and white paints coat the interior elements—a design choice many believed to be provocative and even jarring.

Minnesota's Experimental City of the Future that Never Got Built

11:20 - 12 November, 2017
Minnesota's Experimental City of the Future that Never Got Built, Conceptual drawing of MXC’s primary domed enclosure, proposed to be a mile wide in early discussions, but eventually scaled back. Image Courtesy of The Experimental City Documentary
Conceptual drawing of MXC’s primary domed enclosure, proposed to be a mile wide in early discussions, but eventually scaled back. Image Courtesy of The Experimental City Documentary

The Minnesota Experimental City (MXC)—a utopian plan for the city of the future that was decades ahead of its time, and yet is surprisingly little-known—was the brainchild of the urban planner and technocrat Athelstan Spilhaus. Spilhaus was a man who saw science as the solution to the problems of the world, and became a public figure presenting his ideas of utopia in everyday life through his comic strip "Our New Age." During the mid-1960s, he conceived an ambitious plan to condense his ideas into a prototype for future cities that would be both noiseless and fumeless, accommodating America's growing population and their by-products.

A new documentary, The Experimental City, explores the development, and ultimately, failure of the MXC's vision for future settlements. Using retro film clips, it takes us back in time to a period where Spilhaus' predictions of computers that can fit into your home and remote banking appeared more of a fantasy than reality. The film is directed by Chad Freidrichs (known also for his 2011 film The Pruitt-Igoe Myth) and was premiered at the Chicago Film Festival, in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Several further screenings will be taking place across the country, including at DOC NYC on November 16th.

Experimental City conceptual drawing by MXC urban designer N.J. Pinney. Image Courtesy of N.J. Pinney Conceptual drawing of MXC megastructure's utility and transportation access, by MXC urban designer N.J. Pinney. Image Courtesy of N.J. Pinney Conceptual drawing of a possible air zoning scheme for the Experimental City, by MXC urban designer N.J. Pinney. Image Courtesy of N.J. Pinney Conceptual drawing of MXC megastructure’s interior, by MXC urban designer N.J. Pinney. Image Courtesy of N.J. Pinney + 13

New Documentary on Freddy Mamani Explores the Connection Between Architecture and Cultural Identity

09:30 - 29 September, 2017
New Documentary on Freddy Mamani Explores the Connection Between Architecture and Cultural Identity, © Isaac Niemand via screenshot from documentary
© Isaac Niemand via screenshot from documentary

Soon you will be able to satisfy your wanderlust free from altitude sickness; on Wednesday October 4th, the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam will see the world premiere of the documentary Cholet: The Work of Freddy Mamani. From director Isaac Niemand comes the story of Bolivia's unlikely architectural phenomenon, and one of ArchDaily’s 2015 leaders in architectural design and conceptualization.

Watch Eyal Weizman Explain Forensic Architecture's Pioneering Investigatory Methods

04:00 - 9 August, 2017

In this film produced by Vice, Eyal Weizman—director of London-based research agency Forensic Architecture—explains how his team have developed methods of investigating bombings in areas of conflict across the globe. Using cellphone footage, examining floor plans, and utilising road maps, Weizman brings together scientists, journalists, and graphic designers in order "to analyze destroyed buildings for evidence of human rights abuses."

6 Must-See Architecture Documentaries and Series on Netflix

09:30 - 29 July, 2017
6 Must-See Architecture Documentaries and Series on Netflix, via Netflix
via Netflix

Netflix isn't just a great service for relaxing or procrastinating—it can also be a great learning tool for architecture and urbanism. That is why we have put together seven tips—including both series and documentaries—for architecture-related viewing that, in addition to being entertaining, can help broaden your knowledge.

BIG Changes on the Horizon for Bjarke Ingels and His Firm

14:15 - 8 May, 2017

“The greatest thing about being an architect,” pronounced Bjarke Ingels, “is that you build buildings.”

The Complex Construction of Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum Tower to be Featured in New Documentary

12:00 - 3 May, 2017
The Complex Construction of Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum Tower to be Featured in New Documentary, Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

With construction now well underway on One Thousand Museum in Miami, one of Zaha Hadid's largest projects to be completed posthumously, Curbed has reported that the 62-story tower will be the subject of an upcoming Discovery/PBS documentary covering the creation of complex structures from around the world. Titled “Impossible Builds,” the program will highlight the building’s unique glass fiber reinforced concrete exoskeleton.

Watch the Cryptic Trailer for New Bjarke Ingels' Documentary, BIG TIME

07:00 - 10 April, 2017
Watch the Cryptic Trailer for New Bjarke Ingels' Documentary, BIG TIME, Courtesy of BIG
Courtesy of BIG

There is something unsettling about this trailer – something uncomfortable. On the surface it’s as optimistic as any other film about Bjarke Ingels, the architectural protege and principal of BIG, of which there have been many. He is incandescently youthful, remarkably young when tallied to the level of his repute and success, and perhaps the last of the world-building, world conquering 'media darlings' of the 20th and 21st Centuries. He is, many would argue, an unstoppable force.

New Documentary to Explore the Life and Legacy of Jane Jacobs

16:05 - 23 March, 2017

IFC has announced the release of their latest documentary, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, which will dive into “the enduring legacies of one of the most prominent figures of modern urban planning, Jane Jacobs, and talks about her David-Goliath fight to save NYC.”

New Documentary to Profile the Career of Slovenian Architecture Firm Sadar + Vuga

16:20 - 16 March, 2017

Humor is a very rare quality in architecture, most architects are too serious
-Andreas Ruby, director of the Swiss Architecture Museum S AM, Basel

Since its founding in 1996, Slovenia architecture firm Sadar+Vuga has grown to become one of their country’s most influential architectural forces, with a range of projects covering interior design, to stadiums, to city master plans. In a new documentary by director Damjan Kozole, the firm’s history is being archived for the first time.

Bjarke Ingels to Feature in New Netflix Series on Design and Architecture

06:00 - 19 January, 2017

On February 10 2017, Netflix will launch a new documentary series—Abstract: The Art of Design—which will present "the most creative designers" from various fields in the design word, with the aim of demonstrating how design influences all aspects of our lives. One of the eight protagonists in the spotlight will be Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, of BIG, who will present his vision of architecture alongside professionals in interior design, graphic design, automotive design, illustration, and set design.

Check out the series feature designers after the break:

Architecture Documentaries To Watch In 2017

07:00 - 29 December, 2016

Following our favorite Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2015, our top 40 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2014, and our choice 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013, we're looking ahead to 2017! Our latest round up presents a collection of the most critically acclaimed, popular and often under-represented films and documentaries that provoke, intrigue, inform and beguile. From biopics of Eero Saarinen, Frei Otto and Laurie Baker, to presentations of Chinese "palaces" and the architecture of Africa, Cambodia and India, these are our top picks.

Watch Bêka and Lemoine's "The Infinite Happiness" – a Documentary Film on BIG's "8 House"

13:00 - 2 December, 2016

Update: following the screening period The Infinite Happiness is no longer available to watch on ArchDaily. The full collection of Bêka and Lemoine's films can be viewed on demand, here.

For two days only—between Friday, December 2 and Sunday, December 4—you can watch The Infinite Happiness, part of Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine's Living Architectures series, exclusively on ArchDaily. The film, shot entirely in Copenhagen's "8 House" designed by BIG, follows a group of residents (and passers-by) as they experience life in a contemporary housing block widely considered to embody new models of living.

Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before The Flood" Climate Change Documentary

05:00 - 3 November, 2016

Update: Unfortunately this free online viewing was only intended for a limited time and National Geographic has now removed the video. If you didn't catch the documentary in time, you can still watch it on DVD. In place of the full documentary, we have now included the trailer above.

As a group, architects are without question among the most enthusiastic supporters of sustainable initiatives around. It should therefore be welcome news to many architects that National Geographic has released its latest documentary on climate change, Before the Flood, for free on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter—pretty much everywhere.

Presented by Hollywood superstar and recently-appointed UN Climate Ambassador Leonardo DiCaprio, the documentary is perhaps the most ambitious film about climate change since Al Gore's 2006 An Inconvenient Truth. Throughout the course of the 90-minute film, DiCaprio travels the globe to see the damage wrought by the early signs of irreversible climate change, from melting glaciers, to dying coral reefs, to flooding cities. Speaking to world leaders including Barack Obama and The Pope, as well as a whole host of climate scientists, DiCaprio's aim is not so much to convince viewers of the existence of climate change, as with An Inconvenient Truth, but instead to investigate just how far down the wrong path we've traveled, and whether there is any hope for humanity to save itself.

Documentary On Torre David, Once The World's Tallest Slum, Released Online

15:00 - 28 October, 2015

In 1994, after the death of its main investor and a national banking crisis that left Venezuela's economy stagnated, the construction of Caracas' Centro Financiero Confinanzas - known popularly as the Tower of David - was paralyzed, leaving the building completely abandoned and on 70 percent complete.

Neglected for more than a decade, the 45-story, 190-meter-tall skyscraper became the makeshift home for a community of more than 800 families, becoming the world's tallest "vertically organized favela," with basic services to the 22nd floor and including even barber shops, kindergartens and dentists.

The documentary Torre David (now available to watch in full for a small fee of $3) was filmed by Urban-Think Tank, presenting the particular life of its residents before the tower was evacuated in 2014. The film is part of a larger research project that has led to new a book and numerous exhibitions, including the exhibition winner of the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Click here to watch the full documentary.