Surveying the 2015 Architecture & Design Film Festival, going on now in New York City

Architecture East Newsletter On View

Architecture & Design Film Festival
New York
Through October 18, 2015

It’s that time of year again. The Architecture & Design Film Festival is back with a roundup of films on architecture, design, and the built environment. It’s a great way of taking the pulse of what’s going on here and abroad, and how work is being represented to a wider public.

The films fall into two genres—by architect or designer, and by building. In the former, there is Concrete Love (read AN‘s review here), a beautifully made film by Maurizius Staerkle Drux about three generations of Böhm family architects, including Gottfried, the only German to win the Pritzker Prize. Ove Arup: The Philosopher Engineer, Henning Larsen—Light and Space, SlingShot about Dean Kamen, David Adjaye – Collaborations, and Talking to My Father on Irish modernist Robin Walker.

Talking to My Father is part of a subgenre of films made by the children of architects including Nathaniel Kahn’s My Architect: A Son’s Journey (2003) in searching of his father, Louis Kahn and My Father the Genius (2002) about Lucia Small’s father, Glen. Whereas these two children were estranged, Simon Walker was close to his father and became an architect himself. He is now burnishing his father’s legacy, recalling his apprenticeships with Corbusier and Mies, and trying to save his buildings. In SlingShot, Kamen is presented as more than just the man behind the Segway; he is an inventive spirit and problem-solver who is devoted to cracking big problems like clean water, and health issues—things we are running out of time to resolve.

The building-based films include Under the Skin of Design about the making of Ravensbourne (formerly the College of Design and Communication in London), the last building by Foreign Office Architects, Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island, where architecture by Todd Saunders shapes a program by the homegrown Shorefast Foundation to enliven this remote Newfoundland Island whose economy had nose-dived, Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion about the 1964 NY State Pavilion by Philip Johnson at the NY World’s Fair (reviewed by AN here).

The Infinite Happiness explores Bjarke Ingels‘ 8 House “vertical village” outside of Copenhagen. The film, which opened the festival, will give viewers a preview of VIA 57 WEST, the pyramid-shaped apartment building under construction on the far west side. Vignettes of mowing lawns, riding a unicycle, a children’s treasure hunt, and a mailman offer glimpses of this self-contained world.

An 8 House penthouse resident, Boris, who is originally from Bosnia, directly addresses Ingels: “Hello Bjarke. I think that… You are a madman. And that’s with love. That’s with affection. I think you created something of quality, something beautiful, something extraordinary… Is it living experiment? Is it social experiment? Is it just a product of the mad mind, extraordinary mind, a genius mind… I don’t know what it is, but I feel privileged that I get a possibility to live (in) a place you built…Bjarke… I would like to borrow your brain, just a little.”

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