When buildings turn to images

What sets documentaries on architecture apart from other specialized films? How and with what means should architectural films be made? These questions, which concerned members of the Musee d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in the early 1990s, as well as the more generalized matter as to the relationship between film and architecture, form the basis of the successful documentary series «Architectures,» according to the production director of the company Films d’ici, Richard Copans. The series is currently being screened on Mondays at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex, with the support of the French Institute in Athens, the Vouli and ERT television channels, as well as the Hellenic Institute of Architecture. Starting March 21, they will also be screened on weekends on ERT’s digital channel Cine+. «Our aim was to create an ideal museum of architecture,» said Copans at a recent press conference at the Benaki Museum. The documentaries give step-by-step narration of each building’s construction history, with a detailed analysis of the structure, the morphological details, its relationship to the environment as well as the legal regulations and the conditions that determined the architect’s choices. Particular emphasis is laid upon elements like the texture of the materials and the alternation of shadow and light. «We responded to the French television channel Arte’s request to come up with a unified approach for 19th- and 20th-century buildings. We also decided to have a different script for every building,» said Copans. Each 26-minute film is dedicated to a different building. The documentaries present buildings such as Charles Garnier’s National Opera House in Paris, Otto Wagner’s Sparkasse in Vienna, Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Mila in Barcelona as well as Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany. Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos & Andronikou, tel 210.345.3111. Screenings run to March 23.

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