Ah Netflix, the vast internet repository of irresistible movies and television with the power to keep us glued to our computer screens for hours on end. For many of us, Netflix offers the perfect outlet to relax with friends, or to compulsively binge on television while alone—who hasn't watched an entire season of House of Cards in one night?
Yes, the Netflix streaming service is a wonderful invention, offering an array of idiosyncratic genres ranging from "Canadian Made-for-TV Movies" to "Violent Thrillers About Cats Ages 8 to 10" to—you guessed it—movies for architecture buffs. While many essential architecture documentaries and films, like Nathaniel Kahn's My Architect, are only available through the company's DVD-delivery service, we've collected the best of Netflix's now-streaming selection.
Urbanized by Gary Hustwit, 2011
The third installment of director Gary Hustwit's design trilogy, which also includes Helvetica and Objectified,Urbanized focuses on the design of cities by taking a look at the issues and strategies behind urban design. Featuring some of the world's most prominent architects and urban designers like Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Amanda Burden, and Michael Sorkin, Urbanized frames a dialogue about the future of our cities by examining a diverse range of design projects from around the world. Stream here.
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth by Chad Freidrichs, 2011
Told through archival footage and interviews, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, exemplified by the failed St. Louis housing development. The eye-opening documentary seeks to critique the myth of failure perpetuated by the infamous images of the complex's implosion and destruction. Stream here.
How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? by Norberto Lopez Amado and Carlos Carcas, 2010
Included for the Norman Foster enthusiasts, Amado and Carcas' documentary offers a tour of some of the British architect's most notable buildings, from the Millau Viaduct to the Hearst Tower. With excellent production values and cinematic shots, the film allows viewers to get up close and personal with Foster's work like never before. Stream here.
Metropolis by Fritz Lang, 1927
Fritz Lang's science-fiction masterpiece—a must-see for any architecture enthusiast—presents the futuristic image of a dystopian city, severely divided along lines of wealth and class, and one couple who attempts to overcome this gulf. However, Lang's set design is what makes the film a standout: a hyper-modern Tower of Babel stands alongside the creator's own interpretations of art deco, Bauhaus, and modern structures. All of the architecture is depicted with dark, elongated shadows, creating a terrifyingly surreal landscape that heightens the suspense of the plot. Stream here.
Detropia by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2012
Heidi Wing and Rachel Grady's documentary uses the damaging effects of the automotive industry's decline on Detroit's residents and infrastructure as a metaphor for the nation's larger failure to "keep up" in the global economy. The filmmakers follow three Detroit residents as they reflect on their own experiences in the city, interspersed with shots of decaying buildings, historic footage, and performances from the Detroit Opera House. Stream here.
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