31.10.2015 - 28.02.2016

Constructing Film. Swiss Architecture in the Moving Image

"Constructing Film: Swiss Architecture in the Moving Image" sheds light on the potential of the moving image as an analytical tool and representation medium for architecture. After exhibitions on architectural photography and criticism, S AM is approaching another means of conveying building culture: film.

Film and architecture have numerous areas of overlap and common characteristics: in film, thanks to the creation of motion and temporality via the assembly of individual images, the real space finds an equivalent as an illusory space, which is completed by means of sound and light effects. Thus, due to its multidimensionality, film is the most suitable medium for reproducing architecture realistically. Moreover, much like the film director, the architect also steers courses of action through spatial frameworks.

The exhibition "Constructing film" will go down a new path and for the first time, aside from the familiar film icons such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) or Jacques Tati's Playtime (1967), it will shed light on the various areas where film is used as a representation medium and analytical tool for architecture. 

This exhibition examines the depictive and spatially exploratory aspect of film in various phases of the construction process, both in a university context and in practice: in the design phase, for instance, it is used as a tool for cinematic exploration and assessment of spatial constellations. Furthermore, film serves as documentation of construction progress and of the finished project, be it for the office's internal purposes or, for example, as a means of advertising for investors.

Special attention is paid to the analysis of specific differences between film and established static representation media, such as photography, drawing and rendering. Ultimately, the interplay is also of interest: To what extent does cinematic vision create new possibilities pertaining to the observation of architecture? How do modern media technologies change our visual regime? In particular, there is also a discussion of why film still plays only a marginal role in the mediation of architecture, despite its multimediality and dynamic perception, in contrast to architectural photography.

The complex relationship between architecture and film is illustrated on the basis of Swiss architectural projects from the last 25 years.

Film Trailer


Accompanying Programm

30.10.2015, 7 PM: Opening
05.11.2015, 6 PM: Public Guided Tour
​18.11.2015, 10-12 AM: Wednesday-Matinée
19.11.2015, 6 PM: Public Guided Tour 

26.11.2015, 7 PM: Film in the teaching of architecture
Screening of selected student films (ETH Zurich, Department of Architecture);
Introduction: Dr. Doris Agotai, Marcel Bächtiger 
03.12.2015, 6 PM: Public Guided Tour
15.12.2015, 8 PM: Mediated Architecture. Film screening and discussion 

Place: HeK, Haus der Elektronischen Künste, Basel 
14.1.2016, 7 PM:  Lecture: Support and load. Reciprocal influences between architecture and video-game design 
Prof. Ulrich Götz (ZHdK / Head of Game Design Programme) 
22.1.2016, 6 PM–02 AM: Museums Night: Jazz ’n’ Film 
Film screening “Die neue Wohnung” (1930) by Hans Richter with live Jazz-Music 
(Nolan Quinn, Dominik Burkhalter, Raffaele Bossard) 
28.01.2016, 6 PM: Public Guided Tour
04.02.2016, 6 PM: “Architecture and the feature film” – introductory lecture by Marcel Bächtiger
Film: Chrieg, in the presence of director Simon Jaquemet

In cooperation with Stadtkino 
11.02.2016, 6 PM: Public Guided Tour
11.2.2016, 6 PM:  Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 
In cooperation with Stadtkino 
18.2.2016, 18 Uhr: Film: Höhenfeuer, Supporting film: The Destroyed Room 
In cooperation with Stadtkino 
25.02.2016, 6 PM: Public Guided Tour
25.2.2016, 6.30 PM: Film: L’enfant d’en haut, Supporting film: Chyenne
In cooperation with Stadtkino 
27.02.16, 7 PM: Fictional and artificial spaces: short films
selected by Aline Juchler (Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur) 

The exhibition is supported by

Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Dominium AG
Karl Bubenhofer AG

Upcoming exhibitions

28.08. - 31.10.2021


Public opening: 27/8/2021, 7 PM

In architecture, a "mock-up" refers to a demonstration model that reproduces a fragment of a building in full size, using the same materials as the eventual finished product. These models help to better understand the detailing of a building before actual construction begins. But what if mock-ups are not understood as merely byproducts of architecture, but as artefacts in their own right, in possession of an experimental or even poetic potential that goes beyond their purely technical function? 

Image 1: Atelier Abraha Achermann, Erlenmatt Ost, Basel, 2018 © David K. Ross
Image 2: Material tests with carpet tiles, baubüro in-situ / Zirkular, 2021
Image 3: Tambacounda Mock-Up, Manuel Herz, Senegal, 2018. Photo: Magueye Ba
Image 4: Performative mock-up, Newrope. Photo: Elias Knecht

20.11.2021 - 24.04.2022


Opening: 19/11/2021, 7 PM

Love it or hate it: concrete is everywhere. This exhibition examines this polarising material and its role in the Swiss self-image, challenging popular myths and uncovering surprising connections. A coproduction between the S AM and the gta Archives, Zurich, the Archives de la construction moderne, Lausanne, and the Fondazione Archivio del Moderno, Mendrisio.

Photo: The “Zementhalle” by Hans Leuzinger (architect) and Robert Maillart at the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition in Zurich, courtesy ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv