Great Buildings in a Best Supporting Role

Love Architecture? Love Film? Then you've come to the right place.

 

This site is dedicated to the real life buildings which have engaged and inspired in feature films but have largely gone uncredited.  

 

L'appartement - 1996

Vincent Cassel in L'appartement

L'appartement - starring Monica Belucci and Vincent Cassel featured a Guimard inspired Art Nouveau apartment that did more for French Tourism in the 1990's than the Tour de France. And without the performance enhancing drugs.

 

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Fracture 2007 - The Sherman Residence

© Grant Mudford
© Grant Mudford

2007’s release Fracture, starring Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins didn’t receive many industry accolades. Surprising, given the stellar performances and the stylish production. Reviewers complained that it should have been better than it was, or that the plot was unoriginal or predictable. No matter. To those with an interest in the built environment, the casting of Peter Tolkin’s Sherman House made the film infinitely watchable. Restrained and elegant, the house provided the perfect crime scene, complicit in the murder of its hostess. 

This film pits the generations against each other. An upstart young lawyer (Gosling), against a methodical aeronautical engineer (Hopkins) charged with the murder of his wife. For the most part, generation Y comes off inadequate and ill prepared, outplayed by the more experienced party.

 

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The Fast and The Furious 2001 - Davis Residence

Paul Walker will probably be most often remembered for his association with the Fast & Furious series. His popularity grew with the franchise, as did the sophistication of each production. Over the years the cars became more high tech, stunts became more elaborate and the plot more extreme but it is the very first release, 2001’s The Fast and The Furious though, that is, for me, the most memorable. You guessed it – because it featured a fabulous house.

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Body Double 1984 - Chemosphere

© Joshua White
© Joshua White

Long missing from this discussion is a post about John Lautner’s most recognisable building – the groundbreaking, distinctive and iconic structure, The Chemosphere. Now an LA architectural landmark, the building has taken five decades to earn its status and has achieved it largely as a result of the film industry’s fascination with its futurist aesthetic. The house can be spotted in countless features on both the big and small screens and is referenced in many more - including Charlies Angels and the Iron Man series.

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Twilight 2008 - Hoke Residence

© Skylab Architecture
© Skylab Architecture

Built speculatively by Skylab Architecture in association with local developers – a method of showcasing a fledgling practice’s work without the need for a sympathetic Client (which was possible in the boom times of the early 2000’s) – the Hoke Family purchased the house not long after completion and were approached by the film production team after the house featured in an architectural publication. The decision to proceed is possibly something they have come to regret considering the fanatical nature of Twilight fans.

Whether you are a fan of the series or have reservations about telling teenagers that love is like the feeling of wanting to devour someone (surely teenage girls have enough unhealthy food associations?) this building is a standout.

 

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Casting Architecture all began as a list. Many architects have them – a list of all the beautiful buildings to visit at some point. My list always included a large portion of buildings I'd seen in movies. Possibly more than a serious architect would reasonably have. Or admit to.