On Screen Architecture

This is a shout out for the Resene Architecture & Design Film Festival 2016.

I suggest that you grab a copy of the excellent programmes and go see something that interests you.

Miss M and I have been to three so far.

First up, and the highlight thus far, was Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island.

Fogo Island

Born on the remote Newfoundland island, Zita Cobb left for university at a time when multinationals had all but decimated the local fishing industry and destroyed its economic base.  Fast forward a few decades, and now a multi millionaire (through a timely entry into the fibre optics industry) Zita is pumping some of her fortune into re-invigorating her childhood home.

Architecture is a major player in her plans. Recruiting brilliant architect Todd Saunders, a Newfoundland local now resident in Norway, she sets about reinventing and reinterpreting the place of her childhood.

This is a socially ambitious venture, filmed over the seasons and following the construction of the centrepiece – the Fogo Island Inn.

Local folk created all the furniture, fabrics and artworks that enrich the individualised 29 rooms. The hotel is a sort of Guggenheim Bilbao for architectural tourists. It has quite rightly been featured in many publications.

The documentary is hugely enjoyable demonstration of how architecture can restore social fabric.

Next up the following evening was Concrete Love – The Böhm Family.


Gottfreid Böhm, his wife and his 3 sons. All architects.

The documentary is a vivid insight into controlled obsession and the family dynamics of an office comprised entirely of siblings.

The work they have produced is not what I think of as German. (The film Bauhaus is next week) but features their emotive, lyrical Gaudiesque concert halls and churches.

And architecture aside, the film is as much an advert for positive ageing. It’s almost worth seeing just for the joy of watching the 94-year-old Pritzker prizewinner playing back garden ping pong with his older brother. A great architecture metaphor for the hand-eye co-ordination that he delivers with his fluid and beautiful coloured hand drawings.

And if you’re a fan of Las Vegas, Tokyo or Shanghai, then Lawrence Johnston’s Neon is a must-see.NEON_2


‘A building without signage is a sign of no business, ’ opines a commentator.

Neon was invented by Nicolaus Tesla, but I personally had no idea its commercialisation began in Paris.

The film is a fascinating history of the simple gas filled illuminated tube that turns night into day and that enabled Las Vegas and Times Square to exist. Various architects, historians and neon artists were interviewed. I’ve put the ‘Neon Boneyard’ in Las Vegas on my bucket list.

My biggest criticism of the film is that it wasn’t in last year’s festival before I went to Los Angeles a few months ago. Otherwise I would have definitely visited the Museum of Neon Art.

Perhaps instead, I’ll be inspired to find out what ever happened to the fabulous Green Parrot restaurant neon sign in lower Taranaki St. Unsubstantiated rumours say it was taken to the tip.

Thanks Resene for the great line-up. We’re only half way through our programme and so far it’s been a great festival.

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