Architecture and cinema: the art of montage in scenic composition

Architecture is an art form transcends its creator and becomes part of the collective, allowing for different interpretations and uses. Once an architectural work has been completed, it no longer belongs exclusively to the architect and becomes democratic for society. Through this democratisation, architecture finds its intersection with other creative disciplines, influencing and being influenced by various forms of expression.

The point we want to highlight in this symbiosis is using montage to compose sets, allowing filmmakers to blend architecture and narrative into fascinating cinematic experiences skillfully.

The montage creates a sequence of short, interconnected scenes usually accompanied by music and used to compress time, convey information quickly and evoke emotional responses. It makes and reinterprets existing building spaces by changing programmes, environments and locations. The same building can be presented in different ways in different films, whether as a living space, an office building, or another programme, composing scenarios through montages and spatial transitions. These transitions may or may not be geographically or thematically related, but as a result, we are left with a sense of coherence and immersion, a cinematic illusion that defies reality.


Architecture itself tells a story through its design, history and purpose, it shapes human behaviour and interactions in real life. In cinema, the director uses these spaces to define the characters. The choice of a character’s living space, workplace or favourite spot can subtly reveal aspects of their personality, values and desires.



Ennis House


Ennis House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is used as a set in several films and series – Twin Peaks, Rush Hour, The Game of Thrones, and Blade Runner, among others. Ennis House has a solid and distinctive image, but by using various filmmaking techniques, the directors have managed to characterise the space by giving it unique atmospheres and programmes.

architecture and cinema

Ennis House – Frank Lloyd Wright | Source: Love PropertyArquitetura e cinema

Blade Runner – apartamento Rick Deckard | Source: Love PropertyArquitetura e cinema

Game of Thrones – Meereen Palace | Source: Love Property


Bradbury Building


The same goes for the Bradbury Building, one of the most filmed buildings in Los Angeles. Designed by George Wyman, the building is famous for its impressive interior structure, with a large skylight and a magnificent ornate iron staircase, and has taken on various typologies, from hotel to office block to residential. This building appears in films such as (500) Days of Summer, The Artist, Lethal Weapen 4, and Blade Runner, among others.

architecture and cinema

Bradbury BuildingGeorge Wyman | Source: Curbed & ExperienceFirst

architecture and cinema

Blade Runner – Apartamento Toymaker J.F. Sebastion | Source: The American Society of Cinematographers

Arquitetura e cinema

(500) Days of Summer | Source: SCEEN-IT


Juvet Landscape Hotel


We can also mention the Juvet Landscape Hotel designed by Jensen & Skodvin Arkitektkontor. This building, located in Norway, appears in the film Ex Machina as the refuge of tech billionaire Nathan, dictating the aesthetics of the entire movie.

Juvet Landscape Hotel – Jensen & Skodvin Arkitektkontor | Source: MUBI

EX Machina – casa do Natthan | Source: Filmgrab


Architecture and narrative


Another approach to the relationship between cinema and architecture is that of Christopher Nolan’s film Inception (2010), an example of how montages can masterfully combine architecture and narrative. The film delves into the world of dreams, with characters navigating multiple dreamscapes that bend and intersect. The use of montages allows for seamless transitions between these dream levels, creating a fascinating experience for the audience. The visually stunning cityscape of Paris folding in on itself is an unforgettable architectural montage, symbolising the malleable nature of dreams and the subconscious.

Arquitetura e cinema

Inception – Paris | Source: Archdaily


In conclusion, the intersection between architecture and cinema is a fertile field for creativity, allowing for exploring new horizons and creating imaginary worlds. Cinema uses architecture as a blank canvas for its stories, while architects find inspiration and cinematic references for their creations. This symbiosis between two forms of artistic expression contributes to the visual and emotional richness of films and architectural spaces, leaving a lasting impression on audiences and society.
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