PRIDE & PREJUDICE, 2005 With one of the most tranquil movie intros we’ve ever seen FULL STOP, this 2005 Keira Knightley vehicle begins with our book-toting heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, giving the audience a bit of a tour of her family estate. Over an adorable bridge and through a courtyard of chickens, Lizzy passes into an elegantly disheveled home that’s positively bursting with shabby chic vibes and teenage girls (the pastoral scene is perfectly punctuated with the piano piece “Dawn,” by composer Jean-Yves Thibaudet, playing in the background). Located in Kent England, the moated manor is more literally referred to as Groombridge Place and was built in 1662. The property consists of more than 200 acres with formal gardens, a canal, vineyard, farmland, and something called an “ancient woodland,” which we’re entirely intrigued by. The home is a private one, but the gardens are available for touring. BYO-bonnet.
WESTWORLD S3E2, 2020 The tension between the organic and the built has always been its own character in this sci-fi drama about a futuristic theme park gone awry—and, now that the ‘bots are outta the park, the team behind the HBO juggernaut have spread their wings artistically to show us just where the Los Angeles of 2050-something is at, in terms of architecture and design (famed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels even played informal architectural consultant on the latest season). CGI buildings were added to wide shots of downtown LA, but a few sites were shot on location at noteworthy spaces in both Singapore (including the Helix Bridge, Parkroyal on Pickering, Marina One, and Atlas Bar) and Spain (including the stunning City of Arts and Sciences). For our money, though, the scene stealer was one of our all-time favorite structures, Ricardo Bofill’s home and office on the outskirts of Barcelona. La Fábrica, or “the Factory,” had a fitting cameo in episode two as home to the show’s Engerraund Serac, richest man in the world and creator of history’s most advanced AI. Converted by the architect from a functioning cement factory to his jaw-dropping private home in the mid-70s, La Fábrica is an entirely real space, and Ingels helped facilitate filming by connecting the crew with Bofill’s son. Guess it pays to have friends in high places...and an HBO budget.
WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE, 2019 In this film adaptation of the book, a well-known and highly respected architect suddenly quits after completing two iconic projects. Unfortunately for all of us, the stunning architectural creations in this film are as fictional as the character herself. The 20 Mile House (Bernadette’s crowning glory), for example, is only ever digitally rendered on screen. However, in bringing to life the other non-existent-but-lauded spaces, the film's production designer and set decorator took cues from the novel and applied what they knew to be true of the titular character: Bernadette is a modernist, a mess, and a genius on the forefront of creative reuse. Details to watch for: the eyeglass curtain in the Beeber Bifocal House (a house built inside an abandoned glasses factory utilizing the frames, lenses, and catalogs for ultra-modern/amazing decor) and the incredible origami book installation in the staircase of Bernadette’s “current” home.
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, 1993 Perhaps the only thing dreamy enough to rival early ‘90s Meg Ryan (she’s so cute!), this casa on the water housed Sam Baldwin and his precocious (if invasive) son Jonah in the 1993 Nora Ephron classic. While the interior may have been somewhat modest for the home of an architect, we think those walls of windows and the wide-open layout of the main level vault this space into the pantheon of cinematic greats. Overlooking Seattle's (yes, it’s really there!) Lake Union, this 2-story, 2,200 sq. ft. houseboat sold in 2014 for just over $2 million. We haven’t the comps to speculate what it’d go for in today’s market, but we imagine it’s something along the lines of priceless.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, 2017 The mass architectural appeal of the home in this (dreamy) film was probably the result of a few factors: 1) The historic and beautiful Italian villa in which it took place was jaw-dropping; 2) We’ve likely all dreamt of escaping to a historic and beautiful Italian villa for a summer; 3) We’ve likely all dreamt of experiencing an intense sexual awakening in a historical and beautiful Italian villa some summer. Known as Villa Albergoni, the warm, well-worn manor (which dates back to the 1700s or so) still has a few vaulted, frescoed ceilings and is surrounded by five acres (!) of park. It was chosen by CMBYN director Luca Guadagnino, who knew and loved the Lombardy countryside for years and even considered purchasing the property for himself at one point. When filming began, the 15,000 sq. ft. home was mostly empty, so designers dressed it to reflect the intellectually inclined family in the film, ultimately making it feel equal parts cozy and loved, full of books, art, and collected treasures. On the exterior, the only real modification made to the property was that of the small, backyard pool: it was originally a water trough for animals. 10/10 would happily swim in there.
COLUMBUS, 2017 The stunning directorial debut by South Korean-born American filmmaker Kogonada, Columbus is a moving tale of parental absence starring John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson that takes place in the country’s most unlikely modernist mecca: Columbus, Indiana. The film follows Cho and Richardson’s characters as they tour the city, attempting to reconcile their fractious relationships with their respective parents against a backdrop of stunning structures designed by modernists greats like Eliel and Eero Saarinen, IM Pei, Deborah Berke, James Stewart Polshek, and Robert Venturi. As compelling as the dynamic between the two leading figures is, the city’s architectural landmarks also function as characters in their own right, provoking questions about the legacy and long-term success of the movement they belong to. However, most fascinating of all, perhaps, is the real-life story of how a mid-sized city in Indiana came to house works by so many heavy hitters. For that, we have J. Irwin Cummins, then CEO of Cummins Engine Company, to thank. In 1957, Cummins offered to pay the architect fee for any new public buildings so long as the architect was selected from a predetermined list of world-renowned designers. Thanks to this decades-old streak of corporate charity, the city of Columbus still, to this day, sits as one of the most compelling architectural destinations in the world.
ROSEMARY'S BABY, 1968 #Spookyszn is nearing, and you’d do well to revisit the mother of all horror films (ha!), which features one of the most prime bits of real estate in Manhattan. The UWS’s Dakota building was designed by Henry Hardenbergh (of the Plaza, Waldorf, and Astoria hotels) and opened in autumn of 1884. While the exterior—ornately decorated with gables, deep roofs, niches, balconies, dormers, and balustrades—has an air of North German Renaissance, the interior spaces were designed to meet the French architectural trends of the late 19th century (and no two apartments are alike!). Despite the spooky cinematic history of the film’s “Bramford” building, Rosemary and Guy jump at the chance to fill a vacancy...and, at $4-30 million a pop, these units are even more highly sought-after in real life. But if you can front the chunk o’ change, you’ll be living within the same historic walls as one-time residents Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Boris Karloff, John Madden, and John Lennon (who was infamously shot out front).
LETHAL WEAPON 2, 1989 While Mel Gibson’s mullet and Danny Glover’s sentiments of being “too old for this shit” are inarguably the stars of this buddy cop franchise, we think the “house on stilts” in the sequel is a bit of a scene-stealer in its own right. As Gibson’s Riggs says, “Nobody who lives in a house like this can be completely innocent,” and while we resent that sentiment that modern architecture always begets villain hideout, it turns out, in this case, Riggs and Murtaugh had it right on the nose. The arched home on Mulholland Drive is John Lautner’s Rainbow House (or Garcia House), originally built in 1962 for jazz musician and composer Russell Garcia. Thankfully, it was only a replica of the space that was pulled down by the stilts with merely a cable, a pick-up truck, and the sheer will of a maverick cop who doesn’t play by the rules. Off-screen, the home was recently purchased by a DreamWorks exec who restored the space to its original glory—and added the pool from the original Lautner plans!
GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, 2014 We love us some Wes Anderson-flick production design, and the patisserie-colored sets on which this 2014 dramedy takes place are perhaps his crowning achievement, in terms of architecture. The titular character is the hotel itself, which—cinematically speaking—takes place in a destination ski town in the fictional Eastern European country of Zubrowka. As with any Anderson film, the vibrant settings here (care of production designer Adam Stockhausen) play a pivotal role of their own, and make the perfect backdrop against which to watch concierge Monsieur Gustave H. and lobby boy Zero race around with "Boy with Apple." The campy, frosting-pink exterior (inspired by old photochrom prints of alpine resorts) was created only in adorable miniature form, but the vibrant interior shots were filmed in the abandoned Görlitzer Warenhaus department store in Görlitz, Germany.
MELANCHOLIA, 2011 The stunning, seaside estate in this film (see: macabre intersection where beautiful wedding meets world-ending disaster) is something of a show-stealer. The movie certainly can't be qualified as an "upper," but we think the Tjolöholms Castle just might make you feel a bit of architectural joy, even as a planet hurtles toward Earth in a terrifyingly surreal way. Located in Sweden, this Arts & Crafts-inspired structure was completed in 1904, though the estate itself dates back to the 13th century when it was part of a Danish king's land registry. The location was used not only for the incredible exterior scenes in Melancholia, but also for much of the interior shooting as well. Lucky travelers, this perfect property is open for garden strolls and guided tours, but you can also book the castle for your wedding--talk about a grand affair.
YESTERDAY, 2019 While this feel-good, fab four-infused flick takes place in an alternate reality wherein no one has ever heard of The Beatles except for protagonist Jack Malik, the Malibu beach house in which his cutthroat music agent, Debra Hammer, resides is very real. The Cooper Wave House was built in the late 1950s by California architect Harry Gesner, who’s rumored to have first sketched the space on the back of his surfboard using only a grease pencil. And, while we’re in the rumor mill, this modest beach shack is also alleged to be one of the points of inspo for the Sydney Opera House’s design.