Architecture and film are interlocked: both unfold narrative ideas through space and time, taking us to real and virtual worlds; both start with the imagination, and then take on their own reality. Films are set in cities, landscapes and buildings where architecture is a visual shorthand, telling us about characters and plot in an instant, yet a dedicated festival that brings architecture and film together has never before been held in this country.


The ArchFilmFest London is a 6-day, biennial festival that celebrates architectural film through screenings, installations, symposia, workshops and an international film competition. The inaugural ArchFilmFest runs from the 6th to 11th of June and will take place between two London venues, the ICA and the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf. Each festival year will involve a new international partner and a specific central theme. This year ‘Scale’ is the theme and Chile the partnering country, whose Arqfilmfest in Santiago de Chile will bring a Latin American perspective to the dialogue.

Architecture and film is a big subject, and for the launch of the festival, we will be showing how broad the range can be while still defining a clear territory. In the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, a raw warehouse by the Thames, there will be sixty hours of screening time a day, with documentaries, features, films made by architects, pieces by artists using algorithms to morph architecture, animation, drone footage, virtual reality and the winning pieces submitted for our international competition. Julien Temple is showing his series of city films, Requiem for Detroit?, London: The Modern Babylon and Rio 50 Degrees: Carry on CaRIOca. Iconem, a French group, use drone footage to record architecture at risk in conflict zones, including Palmyra and Afghanistan. Factum Arte have created a three dimensional fly-through of Piranesi’s Carceri and scanned the tombs of Tutankhamun and Seti I in the Valley of the Kings and from the data are making full scale facsimiles, indistinguishable from the originals. Martha Fiennes shows her mesmeric Nativity, a unique digital painting that continually renews itself, while Sophie Fiennes shows her epic portrait of Kiefer’s architectural gesamtkunstwerk in Barjac. The Bartlett will be working with virtual reality. There are forgotten films, and silent films like Metropolis or The Golem with sets designed by expressionist architect Hans Poelzig. We have used the theme ‘Scale’in selecting features that play throughout the festival, moving from The Room, (e.g. Lift to the Scaffold, Rear Window), The Set, (The Truman Show, Dogville), The Tower (e.g. Gomorrah, High-Rise), The City, (Los Angeles Plays Itself, The Knack and How to Get it, Playtime) and the ultimate, grandiose and god-like: The Planet (Inception, Koyaanisqatsi). Many of the films shown will be UK or world premieres, with their directors present. Symposia will focus on live dialogues between architects and filmmakers engaged in the shared exploration of their subjects. A café and bar will allow chance encounters and perhaps future collaborations between the curious and like-minded.

What is an ‘Architectural Film’?

  • Documentaries about architecture / the city
  • Documentaries about architects
  • Architects speaking / talking heads
  • Films made by architects
  • Films where architecture / the city / set design plays a significant, central or pivotal role
  • Films that use iconic architecture in a significant way
  • ‘Art’ or animated pieces with direct use of architecture / architectural elements

The festival programme will include


Archfilmfest offers approximately 60 hours of screening time a day, demonstrating how broad a subject architectural film is, while still defining a clear territory. Our main venue, the Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf will host the majority of screenings and events with a café, bar, and an RIBA pop-up bookshop with a specially curated selection of books related to film and architecture. The ICA on Pall Mall will screen four prime film events, shortlisted competition entries, and will include guest director and discussions with the public.


Symposia focus on live dialogues between architects and filmmakers engaged in the shared exploration of architecture and filmmaking. ‘Doubletake’ will put together pairs of people from each of the disciplines; each will show five short clips of films that particularly resonate with them to promote debate and discussion.


The international film competition is a key element of the festival. From the entries received, the curatorial team will select finalists in each category for screening to the public. A select jury will choose winners from the selected finalists. Awards will be presented to each of the winners in an open ceremony. Their work will be screened and celebrated at both the ICA and the Bargehouse venues.


ArchFilmFest London is hosting a number of social events to celebrate our guests, supporters and friends. There is a bar and café at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf and at the ICA, both encouraging chance encounters and social networking, bringing together members of the two disciplines with the general public. We hope the festival will encourage new work, future collaborations, and that it can have a tangible impact on the professions, while bringing them closer together.


The festival aims to create and nurture new audiences in the combined subject of film and architecture. To this end, there are a number of workshops for networking, sharing information and tools and the acquisition of new skills. The Frontline Club will be running workshops on site at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf in filmmaking and storytelling.