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Conference on Architecture and Fiction: ONCE UPON A PLACE - HAUNTED HOUSES & IMAGINARY CITIES, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2010.



“People are incorrect to compare a director to an author. If he’s a creator he’s more like an architect. And an architect conceives his plans according to precise circumstances - the purpose of the building, its size, the terrain. If he is wise, he can do something creative within these limitations.”

It was John Ford, the movie director, who said this.

The evidence of the interaction between Architecture and Cinema has been pointed out by architects, movie directors, critics and historians since the very beginning of Cinema.

Most of the times Architecture and Cinema are likened because of the architecture that exists inside the cinema – that is the qualities and the significance of the set and the filming sites, the objects, the rooms, the houses, the cities, the landscapes – and the ways that the cinema shows this architecture.

John Ford, referring to the importance of the limitations that condition the works of Architecture and Cinema - I would say the limitations that stimulate the works of Architecture and Cinema –, points out in a very accurate way other possibilities of thinking and working on the relations between these two arts.

I would like to bring to this session a few more of these relations – similarities and differences – that are seldom forgotten and that help me, as a Cinema lover, to think and work better on my daily work, Architecture:

- both deal with space and its form, scale and organization – space inside and outside things, space between things and, especially, space between human beings;


- both (although in very different ways) deal with the passing of time and the perception of it;


- both take light and shadow as “materials”.


On the other hand:


- Cinema is useless, in a practical way; Architecture, since Vitruvius, has to “function”.


- Cinema requires an extreme concentration from its viewer; Architecture permits – I think that it has to count on it – a complete but kind of unconscious awareness of its qualities by its user.


John Ford said also, in an interview to the BBC, in the sixties, that Cinema was an easy way to make a living. I must say that Architecture is a very hard way to make a living.

José Neves

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