We’re in the mood for movies

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Around the kitchen bench in our office, we’ve been talking about our favourite movies that feature inspiring architecture. The team got really involved and soon the repertoire was expanded to including TV series and even cartoons. If you find yourself with time on your hands during the holidays, take a look at these.

Tim Dorrington (architect): The Incredibles. You can tell Tim spends his precious spare time watching telly with his kids. This computer-animated film about humans with super powers captured his heart, not because of the deep and meaningful philosophical themes (celebrating individualism, for one) or its memorable one liners (Honey, where’s my supersuit?), but because of its design nous. Set in Metroville with a downtown waterfront area called Municiberg, the silhouetted buildings are quite clearly based on iconic forms of Louis Sullivan, known as the Father of Skyscrapers. See if you can make out the representation of the Art Deco classic, the Chrysler building. Gritty cityscape moves to cool suburbia in cartoonish renditions of the Charles and Ray Eames House and the Rietveld Shroder home. If you’re keen to delve deeper into the architectural influences in this flick, check out Architizer.


Claire McCall (media and PR): A Single Man.  While it is hard to look beyond Colin Firth’s dreamy gaze, this house really had the starring role. Every scene seems styled to the ‘nth’ degree, which is just what you’d expect when Tom Ford is directing a movie. The house itself, by architect John Lautner, was built in 1949. With timber ceilings and joinery, a central red-brick fireplace and coloured concrete floors, it’s beautifully understand, elegant – a soothing balm to Firth’s troubles in the movie. Located a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles in hills that are a mecca for hikers, it once belonged to actor Michael O Keefe. Last time it went on the market, it took over four years to sell due to its ‘odd’ location. What can I say? Crazy.

Dan Heyworth (CEO)
: Mad Men, predominantly the 60s-based episodes, for the design and the fashion. Dan once worked as an advertising exec and still aspires to having a fully laden drinks trolley in his office. If you follow the trail of inspiration for the setting of the series, you’ll discover the writer was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, particularly his film North by NorthWest. Hitchcock, in turn, asked the set designers to build him a house that featured at the end of that movie as though it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. By the way, the house in upstate New York that Don and Betty Draper occupied in the show recently went up for sale. It was a double-storey, weatherboard, colonial home with a bright red front door. The asking price of US$1.15 million wasn’t bad for a slice of cinematic history.

Nat Holloway (Project Manager)
: One episode of Grand Designs (UK) really captured Nat’s imagination. A container house, designed by architect Patrick Bradley, featured cantilevered boxes clad in Coreten steel and mesh. There were some seriously vertiginous but beautifully sculptural floating staircases inside and out. You really also have to take a look at the bath – a gigantic, scooped olive dish floating in space. It was designed by a Miles Hartwell, a UK-based friend of Nat’s. See more photos here.

Jean Bartosh (Office Manager)
: The Notebook. Ryan Gosling. Need I say more? Speaking of things easy on the eye, the architecture was sublime. I seem to remember a grand Charleston mansion obviously designed to fit a great deal of romance under just one roof. And yes, yet again, it was recently for sale.