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Film was originally a frontier space. From an urban perspective, film arrived in the city as an ephemeral construction, formalised in the shape of a marquee in which one could see moving images.  It was located on the outskirts, on a temporary basis, although eventually it ended up becoming part of the city itself, overlapping and then spilling out from the architecture of cinema. Now, after 125 years of history, when films can be watched individually anywhere at all, cinematographic spaces seem to be in crisis. Does the collective experience no longer make sense? What do cinemas offer as an enticement to the public? Why are festivals so successful? What strategies should cinemas adopt in the future? Should they continue to be stable structures or should they occupy urban spaces temporarily, becoming ephemeral once again? 

The research project Architecture of cinema aims to explore film as an architectural space and determine the place it occupies in the city. The project is designed to be a point of union between thought, research, cinematography and architecture.

Architecture of cinema makes use of the experiences gathered by the Observatory of Scenic Spaces, which was set up in 2007 with the aim of researching the intrinsic characteristics of the scenic space itself, and its relationship with urban history. Made up of architects and researchers from all over the world, the Observatory has established an archive section which has compiled an atlas of theatre maps covering different cities in Europe, a laboratory section which focuses on how scenic spaces work and a dissemination section which publishes papers and participates in conferences and seminars.

Supported by the EQZE in collaboration with the Donostia-San Sebastián Advanced School of Architecture (UPV-EHU), the Barcelona Advanced School of Architecture (UPC) and the Observatory of Scenic Spaces, the Architecture of cinema project will focus on three different areas:

1. Historical and theoretical analysis of how the scenic space has evolved thus far.

2. Compilation of an atlas of cinematographic spaces and identification of places with scenic potential in Donostia-San Sebastián.

3. Training of an interdisciplinary team of film school students from the EQZE and architecture students from the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) with the aim of carrying out feasible architectural interventions.

Data sheet

Research team:
Ekain Olaizola Lizarralde (lead investigator)

Alumnado participante 2020-2021: Efraín Bedoya, Florencia de Múgica, Jesús Hector Martínez, Joseba López, Renan Camilo

Related institutions:
ETSA D-SS (EHU-UPV), Observatory of Scenic Spaces ETSAB (UPC)

19/10/2020 - ongoing

Research line:
Interconnection between film and other scientific, humanistic and aesthetic disciplines.


Basque, English, Spanish