Architectural Film Club – Detroit and Denmark

This year I’m doing monthly resolutions, and for February I’ve decided to check out some of the architectural documentaries out there.

I’m in my final year at Nottingham Trent University studying Architectural Technology, and it’s tough! One thing I’ve been improving on alongside my studies are my presentation skills. I’ve been reading Talk Like TED, a brilliant book in which Carmine Gallo has identified 9 public speaking secrets from watching TED talks and interviewing their speakers. Number one is Unleash the Master Within; Gallo quotes Larry Smith’s TEDx talk in 2011 “Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent” (see full talk Why you will fail to have a great career here). Many of my classmates and I have expressed a frustration at the feeling of constantly churning out work this year, with little time to slow down and enjoy what we are doing. To amend this, and rekindle the passion I have for architecture, I’ve decided to watch an architectural documentary most days this month.

Some friends and family have agreed to join me in my Architectural Documentary Film Club, and perhaps you’d like to check some of them out too. I’ll be finding documentaries in a number of places including Netflix, youtube and the BBC as well as those reported by architectural publications. published 30 architecture documentaries to watch in 2013, and added another 10 for their 2014 update, and and have picked their favourites too.

Documentaries – Monday 2nd Feb

Requiem for Detroit – BBC

Requiem for Detroit, BBC, 2010. Firstly, I should note that this documentary is less about architecture than it is about the rise and fall of the car industry in Detroit, Michigan. The effects of this decay, however, impacted heavily upon the architecture of the area and have resulted in many amazing buildings being abandoned. I watched this film a few years ago and I still find it to be a really interesting and inspiring program. 75 mins. Directed by Julien Temple.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer on the BBC website, and I can’t find anywhere to buy it, but you can watch if for free on Documentary Storm here. See IMDb here for more information.

Bjarke Ingles, TEDglobal, 2009 and TEDxEast, 2011. Between reading Talk like TED and having just booked a weekend away to Copenhagen in April (!!), it felt only right to re-watch these two brilliant talks by Bjarke Ingles talking about how we can redefine architecture and  sustainability. It’s particularly interesting to see how the Denmark Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo goes from a plan to reality between the videos. 18 and 22mins.

3 Warp Speed Architecture Tales, 2009, TEDglobal 

Hedonistic Sustainability, 2011, TEDxEast

Also, check out his Q&A with TED after his TEDglobal talk here, and that Archinomic Yes is More is availible on Amazon here.


The topics covered in each video are different in many ways. Requiem for Detroit doesn’t focus on the architecture, but the effect of the fanatical crisis is reflected in its decay whereas Ingles focuses on modern, even futuristic architecture. However, both encourage us to design with sustainability in mind; environmental but also social and economical.


  1. Rackard, Nicky. “The 30 Architecture Docs To Watch In 2013” 28 Jan 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Feb 2015
  2. Taylor-Foster, James. “40 Architecture Docs to Watch In 2014” 16 Jan 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Feb 2015.

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