Architecture is a multi-disciplinary field and consists of various aspects, one of them being virtual reality and animation. Over the last few years, architecture and design have grown rapidly and have paved the way into the cinema world. Owing to technological advancements, the architectural influence in expressing space, time and people in the digital world has grown exponentially. 

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Cinematic and videogame Architecture_©UCL

Since the beginning, cinema, firms and architecture have been indistinguishably interconnected with one another. They act as a medium for expressing culture dealing with space, time and people. Similar to a director on a film set, an architect is responsible for turning fiction into reality. It creates a built environment that plays an important role in visual storytelling, ranging from the recreation of ancient periods to imagining future landscapes.

Architecture in Cinematic Universe

Cinema can transform one into a different reality for a brief period. Though a strong plot line and the characters play a crucial role in doing so, the architecture of the designed set forms the backbone of the overall picture. The phenomenal cinematic visual description generated through architecture plays an essential role in how the viewers perceive cinema. 

Created by the Oscar-nominated production designer, Jim Bessel, the movie ‘Skyscraper’, created in 2018, critically revolves around an imaginary 240-storey tower in Hong Kong, a fictional tallest skyscraper. The plot revolves around the main character played by Dwayne Johnson, trying to save his family from being trapped in the skyscraper. For the story to be believable, the director, Rawson Marshal worked with architect and tall building specialist Adrian Smith. The intent was to design a building, 1066 metres high based on real possibilities. The design was inspired by Chinese mythology, ‘Dragon’s Pearl’, and hence the design conceptualised on the idea based on a dragon symbolizing strength and courage, reflecting the character of the movie. The curved glass of the tower resembles a dragon, reaching the sky and holding the pearl in its mouth. The ‘eye’ is created with double-helix wind turbines providing power to the building and the ‘belly’ is the 30-storey atrium where most of the film is shot. The intricate design and planning of architectural details of the skyscraper made the building a pivotal character of the entire storyline.

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View of the Pearl Tower from the movie Skyscraper_ ©Dezeen

Architecture in Videogames | Cinema Architecture

Restricted not just to the cinema, architecture has also become significant in the virtual world and video games. With the internet becoming better, video game development has evolved. A virtually built environment plays a key role in how a game can be experienced. With real-life graphics and representations of fictional worlds, video games provide an opportunity to people to live in a fantasy world. Video game architecture has drastically enhanced the modern gaming experience. Architecture in the virtual world represents the theme, setting and mood within the game. Every game has a unique background to create an overall experience such as in Assassin’s Creed. The architects involved in architectural gaming 

Even before gamers begin with game design, designers create buildings to create an interesting experience. Realistic concepts are also intertwined to make the game more captivating.  The detailed design and realistic concepts make these games successful in creating a long-lasting impression. 

One such exemplary architectural design is efficiently portrayed in the game Assassin’s Creed II. The game, eight instalments in the series is set during the French Revolution. Set in Florence, the game has many breathtaking environments. Architectural marvels such as Duomo di Firenze or the Florence Cathedral, Palazzo Medici Riccardi based on medieval design and Ponte Vecchio a large bridge spanning across the Arno River. These recreations of historical buildings provide players with an environment to explore a world that they might not be able to experience. Apart from virtual representations, these visual expressions also act as valuable archival resources. For example, after the recent devastation of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the French game developer responsible for the Assassins Creed franchisee made an extraordinarily detailed 3D rendering to encourage the players to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre Dame.

View from the videogame Assassin Creed_ ©Alphacoders

Courses in Cinematic and Videogame Architecture

The Barlett School of Architecture offers a programme in Cinematic and videogame Architecture (M.Arch) providing a unique opportunity to design at the convergence of architecture, film and videogames. The advancement in digital technologies has created new possibilities by employing innovative architectural design methods. The programme will allow the students to learn from internationally renowned experts and shape new career in the field of architectural design.



Prachi is an architect by profession,an avid reader and a potential ‘keen observer’. She juggles with words in order to make the best out of them to recite her simplest stories with minute details. She now intends to expand her scope of knowledge and understanding of architecture through her adventures and experiences.