Do architects allow themselves to be influenced by cinema?

Do architects allow themselves to be influenced by cinema?

Filmmakers, like architects, take a unique look at their environment. Do those who have the task of drawing the plans of our homes or our gathering places allow themselves to be influenced by cinema? Are movies an inspiration for them? In the Architecture Lessons Series duty He goes to meet architects to talk about their profession, but through the filter of the seventh art.

Even if you have never studied in the field of architecture, it is difficult to find a more passionate ambassador than Sophie Gironay to defend the profession, highlight the difficulties inherent in this profession and highlight its emblematic figures. Therefore, it was not surprising that the meeting was with the duty Either in the shadow The ring (2022), the last great legacy of the late landscape architect Claude Cormier, on Place Ville Marie. I have admired his work for a long time and mentioned some of his accomplishments during the discussion including Light nature (2002), a forest of 52 pink concrete trees installed at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal. This is a former journalist specializing in architecture, in which he collaborated duty And for JournalismShe decided to continue her mission as co-founding director of the Maison de l’architecture du Québec.

What is your relationship with cinema?

I would describe it as symbiotic, and it has been since I was 10 years old. Before 1967, there was no television in the home, but since its introduction into my life, I can absorb between one and three hours of fiction a day. As the only daughter of actor parents who worked in the evenings (Sophie Gironay is the daughter of artists Jean d’Almaine and Monique Lerac), I was completely free to watch almost anything I wanted, from westerns to movies. Four hundred strokes (1959), by François Truffaut, trans the night (By Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961). Later, when I was a student in Paris in the 1970s, I frequented art houses often, where we could see the latest film by Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman or Luis Buñuel: Dreamtime!

Do you feel that cinema has changed your view of architecture?

If so, it is unconscious. I have always tried to talk about architects like movie heroes, to make characters out of them and, above all, to narrate their struggles, like those of Claude Cormier for example. In my opinion, a good film does not separate the built environment, place and story, and talented filmmakers are those who know how to make us feel life in the neighborhood, and how people live there. For example, when Cédric Klapisch surveyed Paris Everyone is looking for their cat (1996), It’s the Paris we love: real, poignant, fleshy. We do not see large buildings, but rather a city full of work, facing the ravages of renewal. Alan Tanner does the same thing with In the white city (1983): Not only does he photograph Lisbon’s beautiful buildings and cathedrals, he is very close to Bruno Ganz, traveling with him around the city.

I understand that you have a special affection for Jacques Tati.

The cinema I prefer is that which presents satirical social criticism using the built environment. In this category, masterpieces my maternal uncle (1958). When I was very young, I found it funny, and when I saw it again at 20, I cried like I had never cried before watching a movie. Tati talks about the loss of beautiful neighborhoods, of simple human life, where children ran freely in the streets, doing stupid things in the middle of an organically built city. In contrast, the modernist villa in which Monsieur Hulot’s sister and brother-in-law (Jacques Tati) live is a sterile place that the director parodies: it is a critique of technology, especially one that works once upon two!

Is there a Quebec equivalent, and more contemporary, to My Uncle?

Before Dark Ages (2007), by Denis Arcand, I shrieked for joy: finally someone showing and denouncing exactly what I had been trying to explain in my articles. When we see Marc Labreche walking in the middle of a populated street Monster houses, with no sidewalks, and whoever wonders what the hell is doing there, that explains everything I hate. We feel the distress of humans in this artificial world. On top of that, he’s in a relationship with a real estate agent (Sylvie Leonard), what a stroke of genius. At one point, they’re arguing in their kitchen about the fact that they only eat frozen and reheated meals, all in the middle of this huge marble counter space. Pieces are cut from the mountains to meet the demand for marble in North America’s increasingly large kitchens. And where no one cooks… This film is the best social criticism about architecture.

Why do we see so few fantasy films in which an architect is the main character?

The profession of an architect is complex, and it is political, because when we get too close to construction, we get too close to power. In the first minutes of Hands on the city (1963), by Francesco Rossi, the whole problem is there: the promoter, brilliantly played by Rod Steiger, explains to his colleagues why Naples should develop on a strip of farmland: a plot of land worth 300 lire could be worth 60,000 or 60,000 lire. 70,000 liras; Just modify the urban plan and that’s it. This film about real estate speculation and corruption has unfortunately not aged well; Aside from some more stringent regulations, we are up to our necks on this. I sincerely hope that Kevin Lambert’s novel, Our joy remains (Heliotrope, 2022), will become a TV series: this is a story of architecture and urban evolution, so hurry!

Regarding Montreal, do you think its architecture is well served by cinema?

We dream of Rome, Venice or Barcelona, ​​but Montreal can make us dream too. There are many places here with character, history and character. No one ever gets tired of seeing Notre-Dame de Paris in the cinema, it’s a cliche, but in the same way as the Olympic Stadium or Habitat 67. There are also a lot of wonderful new, contemporary buildings capable of generating a lot of stories: the ETS Student House, the Saint-Michel Nord HLM, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Cultural Center, etc. To filmmakers, I would say: Get out of your houses and walk. This is how you discover the city. And if you are looking for places with contemporary architecture, contact me!

One of the most beautiful songs performed by your mother, Monique Lerac, titled This is where I want to live. And you, what films would you like to live in?

It depends a lot on my life periods. When I was six years old I dreamed of living in Snow White’s house (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, by William Cottrell, David Hand, and Wilfred Jackson, 1937). When I was 10 years old, I admired Rex Harrison’s library My Fair Lady (By George Cukor, 1964). When I aspired to be an investigative journalist, I saw myself wandering into the show’s newsroom Murphy Brown ! After that, I had ambitions to become a writer, and imagined myself occupying Diane Keaton’s magnificent home office in Something has to give (By Nancy Myers, 2003). In an architectural magazine, those responsible for the film’s set explained the meticulous care they took in choosing the smallest details, including the books in Keaton’s office library – which we don’t even see! Otherwise, like everyone else, I dream of these big French houses where families eat on the terrace, or of these huge Haussmann-style apartments where French movie characters live all the time… even if they are as poor as Job!

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