Entwined with nature: The Best Architectural Documentaries and Docuseries

April 3, 2023

"The dialogue between nature and architecture should not be a polar opposition, but rather a harmonious coexistence." - Toyo Ito


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Architecture has always been a fascinating field, combining art, science, and engineering to create structures that are both functional and beautiful. But what happens when architects take on the challenge of building in the wild, amidst nature's harsh conditions? From towering skyscrapers in earthquake-prone regions to eco-friendly structures in remote locations, these documentaries and docuseries explore the efforts of architects to build into the wild and conquer the challenges posed by nature.

These documentaries and docuseries offer a fascinating look at the challenges and innovations involved in building structures in some of the world's most challenging environments. From towering skyscrapers in earthquake-prone regions to eco-friendly homes in remote locations, the architects and engineers featured in these films must overcome a variety of obstacles in order to create their vision. Through stunning visuals, insightful interviews, and behind-the-scenes access, these documentaries and docuseries offer a unique perspective on the world of architecture and engineering, and the incredible feats of creativity and ingenuity that are possible when we work together to tackle complex problems.


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Here is a list of 10 of the most important documentaries and docuseries about the effort of architects to build into nature and its hardness:


Impossible Builds

sea landscape with a tiny house

This docuseries showcases the efforts of architects to build some of the most daring and ambitious structures around the world. Each episode focuses on a different project, from a bridge that spans a treacherous gorge in China to a hotel that hangs off a cliff in Norway.


The Human Scale

 the landscape of a city upside down

Is a documentary that examines the relationship between people and the built environment in cities around the world. The film asks important questions about how we can create livable and sustainable urban spaces, and offers inspiring examples of urban design that prioritize the needs of people and the environment.


The Conquest of the Ruins

black and white photo of some miners seat down on a shade

Is a 2020 documentary that examines the impact of urban expansion on the environment and the people who live and work within it. Through the stories of quarry workers, construction site employees, residents of private neighborhoods, and paleontologists, the film portrays the complex relationship between humans and the environment in modern cities.


A Tropical House

 a house with tropical architecture

Is a 2015 documentary by Karl-Heinz Klopf that explores the personal home of Indonesian architect Andra Matin. Completed in 2013, the house is located in Bintaro, a suburb of Jakarta. The film is Klopf's second meditation on an architect's personal dwelling, following his 2013 film "Tower House." Through stunning visuals and Matin's own words, the film offers a unique glimpse into the creative process of an architect and the ways in which their personal spaces reflect their design philosophy.


Among The Remains

 An older woman with glasses in the dark

Is a powerful and thought-provoking short documentary that explores the relationship between spaces and the souls that inhabit them. The film starts with haunting images of abandoned buildings and empty streets that evoke a sense of loneliness and despair. However, as the film unfolds, we are introduced to the people who live in these places and we see that they are not defined by their surroundings. Through their stories, the film delves deep into the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit. "Among The Remains" is a contemplative and moving documentary that will leave a lasting impact on its viewers.


The Challenge of Sea Level Rise

Melting glacier

This documentary examines the threat of rising sea levels and how architects and designers are working to create structures that can withstand the impact of climate change. It explores the innovative solutions being developed to address this pressing global challenge.


Slums: Cities of Tomorrow


Is a captivating documentary that explores how marginalized communities have taken charge of their living spaces and created sustainable cities that reflect their culture and identity. The film showcases the resilience and creativity of the residents who have overcome numerous challenges to build unique communities that reflect their way of life. Through interviews and stunning visuals, the documentary offers an inspiring and profound look into the lives of those living in slums and squats.


Hey Neighbour


Is a poignant documentary that depicts the impact of ruthless gentrification policies and rapid urban transformation on Istanbul. The film follows the lives of two neighbors whose vastly different living situations highlight the growing gap between the rich and poor. As the city undergoes rapid change, with gated communities proliferating and trees disappearing, the documentary showcases how the city's rich history slowly perishes. "Hey Neighbour" offers a powerful portrayal of how urban transformation affects the lives of the city's residents.


The Nature of Buildings


Is an insightful documentary that explores the intricate relationship between architecture and the natural world. The film examines how architects are using innovative biomimicry and other natural design principles to create sustainable and resilient buildings. Through interviews with architects, scientists, and environmentalists, the documentary showcases the importance of designing buildings that can work in harmony with nature, using natural resources efficiently, and minimizing environmental impact. "The Nature of Buildings" provides a compelling look into the future of architecture, where sustainable design principles are integrated into the fabric of modern buildings.


The Future of Cities


This documentary examines the challenges faced by cities around the world as they struggle to cope with rapid urbanization and the impact of climate change. It explores the innovative solutions being developed by architects and designers to create more sustainable and livable cities.


Whether you are interested in the engineering behind some of the world's largest structures or the innovations in sustainable architecture and design, these documentaries and docuseries offer a fascinating look at the challenges and creativity involved in building structures that harmonize with nature. Each film showcases the incredible feats of architecture and engineering that are possible when we work together to overcome the unique obstacles presented by the natural world.


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