Feature films from different periods in time show architecture and cities in use and in motion, and yet preserved from the change the actual passing of time brings; what is now old or outdated in cities, or no longer present, was once new and often understood as a harbinger of the future.
This project analyses the way new architectural settings are presented in feature films from the 1970s and 80s. The choice of these decades is strategic: they represent a period of time when both architecture and feature films were experimenting with their respective forms, and they are also decades which have become newly historical.
The project pairs a single film with an urban thematic redolent of architecture’s historical promise, whether utopian, banal or malevolent: Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) is discussed in terms of surveillance and the seemingly malign presence of John Portman’s Embarcadero Centre in San Francisco; Philip Noyce’s Heatwave (1982) analyses the appearance of a utopian megastructural scheme amid the upheavals of urban renewal and heritage protection in Sydney; and, in research conducted with Kenny Cupers, Eric Rohmer’s L’Ami de Mon Amie (1987) is the occasion for a reflection on the promise of French post-war planning, as its characters inhabit the newly-completed New Town of Cergy-Pontoise on the periphery of Paris.
The research has been disseminated in AA Files (nos. 71 & 74) and the edited collection Breaking and Entering (McGill Queens University Press, 2015).