Submission deadline:

November 1, 2022

Cinematic Starchitecture: the celebrity status of architectural structures in film

Famous architecture has circulated throughout cinema history and its diverse genres, performing a myriad of roles and functions that exceed its everyday use or its identity as an aesthetic object, location marker, or spatial setting. The proposed book Cinematic Starchitecture builds upon the term ‘starchitecture’ that was coined in the late 1990s for such dramatic structures as Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to argue further that the celebrity status of buildings has been conferred by, and reproduced in cinema since its beginnings. The editors claim that a crucial part of an architectural structure’s celebrity status is its engagement with (and codification by) the media, and cinema in particular. Countless films globally have featured actors interacting with famous buildings as inimitable components of narrative exposition, character development, and/or identity construction (e.g., race, gender, and class). Starchitecture in cinema can also serve a commercial function, much like the branding of products, thereby augmenting an edifice’s and a film’s publicity value in a mutually mediating process. An example of starchitecture might make a series of film appearances, thus creating the continuity of certain architectural characteristics or ‘performances’ and so facilitating the creation of a branded identity.

Such images of the built environment may include real buildings but also their production-designed copies or pastiches, which have subsequently circulated into broader culture. When this happens, architectural structures can work much like film stars, employed in pre-production, post-production, distribution and publicity strategies, such as film trailers, posters, and other promotional materials. Fan culture also engages with starchitecture through tours and pilgrimages, reinforcing the cinematic role of architectural structures in constructing a complex personality in film and popular culture.

The proposed edited book seeks to explore the following general questions and specific issues. The editors invite proposals for chapters focusing on (but not limited to) starchitecture in a single film, series of films, in production and publicity venues, or in global cinema culture:

  • How or why have specific architectural structures (either in single films or across a range of films) become important to cinema?
  • What are the processes by which architectural structures become starchitecture in film?
  • What are film “uses” of key architectural spaces, as opposed to architectural intentions for use?
  • How does the built environment inform the actions of characters or a film’s narrative structure?
  • How do iconic buildings or structures serve as memory images or ciphers of nostalgia through cinema and culture?
  • How does starchitecture generate or facilitate images of futuristic utopias or dystopias?
  • How does starchitecture construct intersectional identities across films or genres?
  • How might architectural structures effectively function as film stars or characters in film?
  • How does starchitecture operate as cinematic spectacle?
  • How does starchitecture inform the development of local, national, regional or global socio-cultural or political identity or spatiality?
  • How does architecture serve as public image or performative space as developed in (and through) film?
  • How do architectural structures enter public consciousness and develop political and ideological functions through film?
  • How does film starchitecture structure tourist journeys, travelogues, or traumalogues?
  • How does film starchitecture impact architectural theory and practice?

The proposed length of each chapter will be 6500-7000 words.

Please send your 300-word abstract, 5-10 references, and a short bio to: Paul Newland at p.newland@worc.ac.uk and Merrill Schleier at mschleier@pacific.edu

Deadline for abstracts: 1 November 2022 

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