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What Happens When Architects Become Filmmakers? Meet Factory Fifteen

Schooled in architecture, Factory Fifteen are not architects in the traditional sense--though they are pretty handy with 3D rendering software. Instead, they're an independent film studio that uses architecture to explore ideas surrounding technology and its social and political impact. Their sci-fi inspired design fiction films transport the viewer to far-flung but not inconceivable locales and, as you might expect from a group of architects-turned-filmmakers, these settings possess an almost palpable presence that the viewer can visually explore and inhabit.

“There’s a lot of debate within architecture asking: what is the future role of architecture? And as the virtual world expands, we’re taking more control of how the digital world will affect our world. What we’re creating is an ‘architectural perception,'” explains Kibwe Tavares, one of the group's principal founders and director of the widely acclaimed short Robots of Brixton, a film about robot riots in the Brixton area of London (which saw real life riots in 1981 and 2011).

We asked the team to reveal some of the inspiration that helped shape their distinctive sci-fi informed visual style. Check out our side-by-side comparisons below.

SYD MEAD

Syd Mead is the "visual futurist" responsible for the visual style of such sci-fi mainstays as Blade Runner, TRON, and Aliens. Like the Factory Fifteen guys, before he transitioned into film work, Mead got his start in transportation design and architectural renderings.

 

Still from Factory Fifteen's Golden Age: Somewhere.

 

LEBBEUS WOODS

An architect and artist in his own right, Lebbeus Woods was more drawn to conceptual architecture and theory than he was driven to build actual buildings. In 1988, he co-founded the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture, a nonprofit devoted to the advancement of experimental architectural thought and practice.

Still from Factory Fifteen's Robots of Brixton.

 

SHINJI KIMURA

Japanese animator Shinki Kimura perfectly captures the vibrant stacked neon signage of his native Tokyo. His depictions of urban landscapes have graced many anime TV series and film productions under his art direction.

Still from Factory Fifteen's Jonah.

 

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