Mock-Ups in Close-Up. Architectural Models in Film 1919-2014

film project
Gabu Heindl and Drehli Robnik

Mock-ups in Close-up: Architectural Models in Film 1919-2014, a film by Gabu Heindl and Drehli Robnik is a comprehensive overview, as well as a compilation in celebration of, an under-explored object in the relationship between architecture and cinema: how physical architectural models or mock-ups figure ‘as themselves’ in movies. As a work in progress, the video has expanded into a 140 minutes long chronological series of narrative feature film scenes showing architectural models – scenes from 202 different movies released between 1919 and 2014.

Although Mock-ups in Close-up contains some obvious classics such as The Fountainhead or The Belly of an Architect, it does not primarily quote from “films about architecture”. Rather, it offers a section through a feature film history that is not picky (though with a bias towards a cinema that the two of us are most familiar with, i.e. Western popular cinema). This history, our video intimates, seems to be obsessed with showing models in a variety of contexts. Be it on the fringes or at the center of a scene, architectural models pop up in urban planning conferences or military briefings, during heist preparations or in/as haunted houses, in love stories, thrillers, dramas, comedies or Science Fiction. The films compiled include arthouse and blockbuster fare, auteur cinema as well as instalments of film franchises such as the James Bond, Robocop or X-Men cycles. The list of filmmakers who couldn ́t resist to either pan over or focus on architectural models includes Fritz Lang, Stanley Kubrick, Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Spielberg and (the two directors most frequently showing models) Tim Burton and Alain Resnais.

Screenings, a.o.:

2008
– Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, USA
– Lenguajes Filmicos, Sevilla, Spain
2009
– Filmmuseum München, Germany
– Cristina Enea: Centro de Recursos Medio Ambientales, San Sebastian, Spain
– Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, China

2010
NECS-Konference “Urban Mediations”, Istanbul, Turkey
– Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Vienna, Austria

2011
– Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie, Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany

2012
– Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria
– Architekturtage 2012, Vienna, Austria
– “The Architectural Model – Tool, Fetish, Small Utopia”, DAM Deutsches Architektur Museum, Frankfurt, Germany

2013
– Institut für Europäische Kulturgeschichte, Ruprechts Karsl-Universität Heidelberg, Germany
– Ooga Booga, Los Angeles, USA
– The Architecture Foundation, London, UK
– H-ArtHist at MIES 1:1-Modell auf dem Egelsberg, Krefeld, Germany

2014
– Toronto Society of Architects, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, Toronto, Canada
– “What Models Can Do”, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Siegen, Germany
– Biennale Architettura 2014, Venice, Italy
– School of Art and Design Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
– Apollo Cinema, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany

2015
– Vorführung und Seminar, “Europäische Medienwissenschaft”, Universität Potsdam (Institut für Künste und Medien), Germany

2016
– Tieranatomisches Theater der Humbold-Universität, Berlin, Germany

2021
– Museum of Finnish Architecture
Helsinki, Finland

film project
Gabu Heindl, Drehli Robnik

period
ongoing since 2007