CinemArchitecture was an intensive summer 2-week residential symposium/seminar/workshop supported by the EU ERASMUS programme, which brought together architectural students from the Universities of Cambridge, Liverpool and Porto, and the Estonia Academy of Arts, Tallinn, to learn about the relationships between architecture and the moving image. Each year, over three years, 8 - 10 students from each participant organization took part: 2008, Porto; 2009, Liverpool; 2010, Tallinn.

Perhaps as no other visualisation method, ‘moving images’ can represent architectural spaces as ‘lived’ and/or ‘inhabited’. Digital movies are a medium that can – through the use of space and time, mise-en-scène, characters, and plot – encapsulate important debates on architecture and urban life. Moving images also have the capacity to generate ‘a sense of place’, which is a phenomenon connected to our perception and experience of the shape and form of a physical, as well as ‘filmic’, reality; and which is inherently connected to the use of space-defining elements - such as light, colour, sound, music and a narrative structure.

Dr François Penz ran workshops in ‘city montage’ - City Sinfonietta - in the tradition of the great ‘City Symphony’ films of the 1920’s, and Maureen Thomas ran workshops in continuity shooting and editing, connecting space and the people who inhabit it - Legible Expressive Space. Mary Ann Steane and Giorgos Artopoulos participated as tutors. Participants worked in groups of 5, composed of students from all the Universities, each group making two short workshop movies which were throroughly reviewed before all participants had the opportunity to develop an independent moving-image project, using techniques learned.

See: Thomas, Maureen. 2011. 'The Moving Image of the City: Expressive Space/Inhabitation/Narrativity' pp 281 - 309 in Penz, François and Lu, Andong (eds). Urban Cinematics - Understanding Urban Phenomena through the Moving Image. Chicago: Intellect Books.

Some comments from participants:

“It has changed how I visualize space and has given me a new tool to represent space and capture time and space together.”

“I will take much of what I have learned and experienced and carry it through into my architectural studies.”

“I expected it to be more architecture-oriented, but during the exercise I realized that it is so much more complex to express the space THROUGH narrative than just capturing the space.”

“The workshop had a strong emphasis on how people are represented in buildings, which I feel is something that my education has needed, and lacked.”

“I have found the course amazingly insightful and its intensive structure meant that I have achieved a significant amount in an extremely short time.”

“The tutors were very helpful and not too obtrusive - it’s very important to give students space to work without someone looking over their shoulders too often, and this workshop achieved just the right balance.”

“We went on to explore quite complex cinematic issues and produced work I didn’t think I’d be able to produce in such a short amount of time.”

“Architecture could be represented differently and gain so much more significance through the movie.”

“Beyond exploring film, editing, and a new city, working with schools from multiple cultures was priceless, on multiple levels.”

“Highly rewarding in every sense.”