Architects typically use Flash-y websites or postcards to publicize their projects. But a few architects have recently been exploring the documentary as vehicle for engaging an audience outside of the architect-world bubble: Tomas Koolhaas, son of OMA founder Rem did the short film on CCTV, and Pierre de Meuron did a documentary for the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion featuring Pierre de Meuron.
Now Steven Holl, FAIA, this year's AIA Gold Medal Winner, has released a pair of short films that explore one of his firm's latest projects, the Daeyang Gallery and House in Seoul, South Korea. Both films were shot by architectural cinematographers Spirit of Space during the building's opening reception in June. The first features commentary from Holl as he takes viewers on a tour through the gallery. "For me, architecture really has to be experienced," Holl says. "You have to walk through it."
In the first video, viewers have the opportunity to get that walk-through experience, as Holl gleefully explains a detail here, a concept there—every now and then pausing to point out the movement of natural light and to note sound reverberation times in the various spaces.
Fans of Holl's watercolors, have no fear: though he's exploring new media, it doesn't appear that he'll be retiring his paintbrush any time soon. The Daeyang Gallery and House also comes with a set of watercolors, which Holl included in the video. They were partially inspired by composer Istvan Anhalt's 1967 sketch entitled "Symphony of Modules."
The second video removes Holl's narration, and simply shows various building elements in soft focus or time-lapse. It begins by following a man up the street, who peers voyeuristically through the gate; the gate opens, and we are inside the gallery, observing the movement of light over the course of a day, or the way wind whips ripples across the water that separates the three buildings of the project. Disconnected shots of glowing light wells beneath the grade-level reflecting pool transition to close-ups of wooden door handles and angled corners.
Though sketches, drawings, and models are still used for displaying work before they're built, the new medium of documentary helps us experience built projects in a more tactile and 3D way.