Architecture on screen

Davide Spina

Paddington bear

Here at Stratton & Reekie we know how important representations of architecture are. To say that the success of a development relies on them just as much as on design would be a bit of a stretch, yet it is telling how many good projects have been virtually consigned to oblivion due to bad representation. On a larger scale, the same applies to cities.

Today’s London would hardly be such a prominent business and tourist destination if its spaces hadn’t been used as a mise en scène for an incredible number of compelling stories on the big screen. Over the years film directors duly celebrated the architecture of this city, embedding it in their narrative threads. From Sidney Furie’s sleek tracking shots of Whitehall in classic espionage film The Ipcress File (1965), to the irresistible cosiness of Kensington and Chelsea’s streets in Roger Mitchell’s aspirational masterpiece Notting Hill (1999), to Woody Allen’s explorations of West End mansions – and the genteel life that inhabits them – in Match Point (2003), London’s rich real estate patrimony entered public consciousness via the cinematic route.

By captivating an international audience, these films successfully promoted London’s distinctive brand, driving its portentous rise into a global powerhouse. And it is not a coincidence that in the past 20 years the value-adding potential of motion pictures has steadily gained recognition in the property industry. Today short films – sometimes enhanced by CGI – are widely used to show the audience what the building is/willbe like to live in. The fantasies of occupancy they provide us with are probably as relevant as the actual experience of inhabiting these spaces, if only because the images stay with us long after we turned off the screen. As the success of London-based companies like River Film demonstrates, producing fascinating promos is becoming more and more important to good marketing, and we can only see the practice growing in the years to come.