The representation of ‘building events’ in Wim Wenders’ Cathedrals of Culture

Ursula Böser, Máiréad Nic Craith, Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article explores the representation of buildings in Wim Wenders’ anthology film Cathedrals of Culture [2014. Directors: Wim Wenders, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Robert Redford, Margreth Olith, Karim Anouiz]. In this, six landmarks of public architecture, reflecting a commitment to diverse social practices are presented in response to the film’s unifying brief of capturing the ‘soul of buildings’. The article centres on a selection of three films, The Berlin Philharmonic by Wenders himself, The National Library of Russia by Michael Glawogger and Michael Madsen’s contribution about Halden Prison. The analysis of the different filmic approaches taken to the representation of architecture focuses in particular, on how these draw in very different ways on a first person voice-over and the use of 3D. Overall, these films construct different epistemic positions on how public architecture may be known and they challenge traditional notions of buildings as static and material. Instead they mobilise filmic resources to show how social practices and meanings become manifest in the physical features of buildings and how, in turn, such practices are shaped by the architecture. They transform these material structures into ‘building-events’ [Jacobs, J. 2006. “A Geography of Big Things.” Cultural Geographies 13: 1–27].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • 3D
  • Architecture
  • conceptualisation of space
  • first person voice-over
  • social practice


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