My post “Lucas villain ship to Chicago” sparked a lively back and forth on the TradArch and Pro-Urb listservs about the work of those who create urbanism for the movies. Was Blade Runner filmed in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? Yes, Ennis House, built in 1924. What material was used, and how is it holding up? Or, the idea for the city of Theed on the planet Naboo in the Star Wars series came from Leon Krier’s Atlantis, his ideal town on a hilly isle, according to Andres Duany. (Thanks to Michael Geller for posting the excellent map of Theed atop this post – click then click to enlarge.) Over drinks at a Miami Beach café with the urbanist Demitri Baches and the films’ production designer it was argued (by whom I’m not sure) that “a nice city could not be modernist.” All this recalls a zany essay on the dark side of movie island paradises by Edwin Heathcote of the Financial Times, to which I linked from this post last April.
I believe that if a study were done of cinematic habitations for good guys and bad guys, it would discover a remarkable tendency of the good, the brave and the innocent to occupy traditional architecture – from houses to cities ranging from classical to the vernacular. And vice versa for the bad guys. Whether on purpose or by intuition-inspired accident, it would seem there’s nothing coincidental about this profound dichotomy!
An effort to bring this remarkable filmic truth to the public’s attention might be a coup for the good guys in architecture’s style wars.