Outstanding movie sets can influence fashion, architecture, furniture design, and worldwide culture in addition to production designers and set designers. Kubrick was renowned for his meticulousness and attention to detail. He sought to create a unique space-age world for “2001.” Kubrick determined he wanted a more realistic design approach after looking at the sets from earlier science-fiction movies from the 1960s. In addition to making the sets appear realistic, his main objective was to foresee future technological advancements. It’s crucial to remember that NASA was working feverishly to simultaneously send a man to the moon as Kubrick and his crew designed the future’s appearance. The sets in “2001: A Space Odyssey” had to keep up with technological advancements, or the design vision would come off as antiquated and incorrect.

The switch panels, display systems, and communications equipment for the spacecraft interiors in the film were designed by Kubrick’s team of astronomical artists, aeronautics experts, and aerospace engineers to create the highest level of technical realism.

It’s worth noting that Stanley Kubrick commented in response to a query about his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, “It’s not a message that I ever seek to express in words.” Seeing the film is a “nonverbal experience.” There are no words or speech throughout more than two-thirds of the film. As a visual storyteller, Stanley Kubrick prioritises images above words in his works.

Film synopsis | A Space Odyssey

The closing sequence of the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has been researched and plotted out, completes the circle initiated in the film’s first scene. From the beginning until the end of the film, without using words.

The apes are just beginning to evolve in the movie’s opening sequence. A mysterious alien power that takes the form of a monolith pays them a visit. The monolith’s appearance is a metaphor for the following stage of evolution. The monolith offer direction for the course of evolution. Only a few apes move on to the next stage of development once they start utilising tools, while the others are doomed to extinction. When a floating spaceship is spotted in space, Stanley Kubrick cuts from the first stage to the following one, thus moving the action forward by four million years. Later on, the film’s last sequence parallels this passage of time.

A monolith makes a second apparition when humanity is on the cusp of an evolutionary leap. The race to the stars is currently the logical next phase in the evolution of the human species. HAL 9000, a computer on board their spacecraft that is possibly more sophisticated than humans, serves as a representation of this evolutionary leap. The final threat HAL poses to human security is revealed, and we are given an intriguing conundrum. The instruments that previously helped us advance are now holding us back. In other words, technology is beyond man’s control, necessitating the next stage of human evolution.

After defeating HAL, Dr Dave Bowman, a scientist aboard the Discover One, is taken into another realm or dimension. Dave’s spaceship appears inexplicably towards the conclusion of his adventure in a space with white walls. This area also immediately exudes a sense of separation from the outer world and technology. According to Stanley Kubrick, Dave is “put in a human zoo roughly resembling a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his fantasies and imagination” in this habitat. Until Dave is prepared to advance to the following stage of evolution, this location can be considered a holding area for him. We are given a comparison of this private place with a public environment by calling it a “human zoo.” Like animals in zoos are kept in enclosures, Dave (and possibly other individuals who have been before him and will come after him) is kept in this constrained area.

Dave’s character provides various viewpoints that hasten time’s passage in this location. Space in this scene impacts time and the passage of time; with each change in perspective, time moves forward, and Dave becomes older.

Dave ages with time, and as he approaches death, he points and extends his hand into the distance. A monolith has been established in front of his bed at this time. This perspective change marks our fourth occurrence.

In the scene where Dave is now replaced by a Star Child, a fetus-like entity encased in an orb, Stanley Kubrick cuts from the monolith onto the bed. The sixth perspective shift in this scene occurs when the Star Child is viewed as the monolith.

These shifts in viewpoint govern the passage of time in this scene. The subject of rebirth is connected to Renaissance artwork. It also speaks to the necessity for evolution into this next stage of consciousness that the Star Child is born in a world without technological limitations. Even though time moves more quickly in this final scene, the events develop delicately and slowly.

The non-linear passage suggests that Dave may have lived in this location for many years, but the audience and I watch Dave’s life go by rapidly. Stanley Kubrick creates a masterful effect without dissolving or fading but carefully overlaps these time-passing instances. The rules of linear time no longer apply to this room’s singular space.

An Architectural review of 2001: A Space Odyssey  - Sheet1
2001: a space odyssey_© https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/62-2001-a-space-odyssey

Architectural Elements enhancing the film


The Monolith, a large, black structure that always exists when a species is on the verge of evolution, appears in all three acts. This enormous structure is the film’s primary structural design element in many respects.

Stanley Kubrick’s use of cinematic devices highlights the significance of the concept. To evoke a sense of mystery and dread in the audience, the director employs a combination of low perspectives, a menacing soundtrack, and unusual placement places.

Every time the monolith appears in a scene, it is put in an environment that doesn’t look right. The object first appears in the centre of a desert, then in the middle of a moon crater, then it orbits Jupiter, and ultimately in the middle of a bedroom.

The film’s emphasis on establishing a realistic setting is one of the main reasons why the placement of the monolith is so crucial. The interior and exterior designs are all firmly grounded in a feeling of reality. This means that every architectural design component adheres to a particular design concept, unlike the Monolith, which is constantly positioned in an out-of-the-ordinary environment. This gives the scenes themselves a sense of the unnatural.


Monolith/ HAL:

Through their designs, man’s sentient creations may see the connections between the evolutionary creators and them. Both the HAL 9000 and the Monolith have aesthetically similar designs. Both have obtrusive, stiff structures that confer authority and control. The director decided to visually link these “characters” to the concept of evolution. The Monolith’s major goal is to take the next evolutionary step, whatever it may be. Since HAL represents the next stage of sentient evolution, HAL shares (aesthetically) the same tremendous presence as the Monolith.

HAL God:

The monolith’s “God Like” presence is likewise represented in HAL. The framing of key photos, including the HAL 9000, conveys strength and domination. The choice of lighting in these scenarios also contributes to the visual representation of HAL’s ‘God Like’ presence. The decision to just grant HAL one “eye” also reflects the ” deity ” idea discussed throughout. This aesthetic decision strengthens the machine’s inherent sense of omnipresence.

Many people see the movie as Kubrick’s critique of technology in general. He described the future as consisting solely of people devoutly gazing at screens, oblivious to the outside world and enabling computers to take the place of temples and shrines in our future. 

An Architectural review of 2001: A Space Odyssey  - Sheet3
HAL : AI _©http://www.newsandtimes.com/2017/03/kubricks-dangerous-ai/

Interior Furniture:

The movie uses architectural modernism as a starting point to imagine a plausible future. Still, it also outfits its universe with specially created furnishings and accents to give these rooms a lived-in sense.

Kubrick was heavily involved with the production and set design, selecting significant pieces of contemporary furniture, actors, and costumes.

The brilliant red Djinn chairs created by Olivier Mourge, prominently displayed around the Hilton Space Station, are the most notable furniture in the movie.

Eero Saarinen’s pedestal tables from 1956, another well-known example of “modernism” design, are situated next to these.

An Architectural review of 2001: A Space Odyssey  - Sheet4
Interior furniture _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/

Interior Time Lapse

A lot of the movie’s more abstract sequences are also explained by Stanley Kubrick using interior space. This diagram demonstrates how the film’s concluding sequence uses various vantage points and architectural settings to depict how time changes.

Space in this picture impacts time and the passage of time; with each change in perspective, time moves forward, and Dave becomes older. These many viewpoints are noted in the Image . 

According to Stanley Kubrick, Dave is “put in a human zoo roughly resembling a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his fantasies and imagination” in this habitat. 

Like animals in zoos, which are kept in enclosures, Dave is kept in this constrained area.

The room has renaissance paintings, which are not just framed but also set into alcoves that resemble windows or mirrors, completing the room’s classical architecture. The room has glowing floor tiles, a bed, various seats, and cabinets. It’s noteworthy that a detailed inspection of this area led us to learn several things. The floor tiles helped us estimate the size of the room and acted as a compositional guide throughout the movie. Each tile in the room is around 4′ by 4′ in size and is divided into eight by ten squares. Another item in the room is a chair next to a cabinet; however, its placement shifts during the scene, causing a continuity mistake. However, after further examining the scene, we learned that Stanley Kubrick chose this intentionally.

Further, it’s intriguing to consider the possibility that the French-style furniture is both an imperfect reproduction of the original pieces and a possibly imperfect depiction of Dr Bowman’s preferences from the viewpoint of the amorphous beings. Dr Bowman experiences a feeling of increasing dizziness that causes him to become disoriented and lose his sense of place. To Kubrick’s point about the zoo, even in Dr Bowman’s bedroom with all of its material “comforts,” he is still imprisoned, regardless of whether the areas for the animals were intentionally made.

An Architectural review of 2001: A Space Odyssey  - Sheet5
French style room_©https://www.intjournal.com/0612/2001-a-space-odyssey
An Architectural review of 2001: A Space Odyssey  - Sheet6
French style room plan _©https://www.intjournal.com/0612/2001-a-space-odyssey

Spacecraft Architecture | A Space Odyssey

The exterior of Space Station V is round in shape. Kubrick chose to purposely adopt this design concept to give his world another layer of authenticity.

The Space Station V revolves and is round because it is designed to mimic artificial gravity (This process is known as Centripetal Motion). One of the many explanations for this movie’s popularity is the level of detail used to build a plausible future. 

The space station also has windows and ports so that the audience can see the cosmic setting they are in, and the interior design of the computer room is exact, with the buttons on the console having a geometric rectangular form.

Space craft hanger _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/
Space craft hanger _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/
Space craft _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/
Space craft _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/


Each of the inside scenes uses a distinctly different colour scheme. Because of the colour scheme’s prominent use of white, it is clear to the audience that they see a movie in a pristine and relatively sterile environment. The directors can depict a future that would have been conceivable when the films were filmed by staying within 1960s modernist architecture.

The use of solid fluorescent lighting and primarily white interiors further help to convey the impression of artificial sunlight inside a man-made structure, contributing to the same sterile aesthetic. This stylistic decision gives the movie an unnatural quality. The ideals of the unnatural become man’s nature as he gets more dependent on electronics and technology, which forces him to stray from real nature and rely on the fake nature they have built themselves.

The settings in Kubrick’s movies are realistically portrayed so that viewers can experience various emotions. The beauty of the movie is how it uses architectural aspects as its central plot device.

The movie is a tireless work of cinematic art that challenges, confounds, and fascinates viewers more than fifty years after it was released, thanks to Kubrick’s originality and persistence in posing questions rather than providing solutions.

Space craft colours _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/
Space craft colours _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/
Space craft white interior narrow corridor _©https://killscreen.com/versions/can-now-visit-spacecraft-2001-space-odyssey-vr/


The movie uses a method called recurring components to create a space. These scenes have a sense of duration thanks to the lighting repetition, symmetrical panels, and unique features. By doing so, focal points are created that make it clear where the character is going in the story. Despite the idea of ever-expanding space, these cramped tunnel environments give people a feeling of claustrophobia.

Space craft corridor _©https://www.atlasofplaces.com/cinema/2001-a-space-odyssey/
Space craft interior _©https://www.retrozap.com/2001-a-space-odyssey-1968-sci-fi-saturdays/
Space craft interior _©https://www.retrozap.com/2001-a-space-odyssey-1968-sci-fi-saturdays/

Size and scale | A Space Odyssey

The movie employs symmetrical lighting, which keeps “outside space” a focal point of the image, and uses a simple comparison to convey these spacecraft’s size and scale visually. The audience is given a sense of scale because of how little the humans are compared to the spacecraft and the surrounding buildings.

Further, the concept of scale is crucial to the movie’s overall theme. The Monolith’s primary function in the film is to manifest just as a race is about to advance to the next stage of evolution. The structure’s imposing size establishes a visual hierarchy between it and man. The relationship between Hal and man is once again hierarchical. Man’s development into a sentient being can be attributed to the monolith. The machine has advanced into its sentient race thanks to man.


  • https://www.intjournal.com/0612/2001-a-space-odyssey
  • https://ksamaarchvis.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/2001-a-space-odyssey/#:~:text=The%20film%20doesn’t%20just,of%20production%20and%20set%20design.
  • https://www.productiondesignerscollective.org/single-post/2016/05/15/connecting-the-dots-2001-a-space-odyssey
  • https://collider.com/2001-a-space-odyssey-explained-stanley-kubrick-kier-dullea/#:~:text=2001%3A%20A%20Space%20Odyssey%2C%20directed,the%20self%20and%20the%20self.

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