Ila Bêka and I had a common interest in architecture and we realised early on that we wanted to go more deeply into the subject and to work out how best to represent architecture in film. It soon became obvious that just one film wouldn’t be enough to achieve that, but when we first filmed Koolhaas Houselife we were definitely not thinking of making a series. It was very much a side project. Ila was making a feature film at that time, and I was studying. We decided to do something together as an experiment and chose architecture.
We did this film with absolutely no funding, no budget – it was a project of love that we created in our free time. When it was released we got such an extraordinary response from the public that it stimulated us to develop the theme and the method and to create a series.
From the start ‘Living Architectures’ was not intended to become our main subject of work. And it’s funny, when we look back, because documentary and architecture were not even our main interests. As our interests developed and evolved, we tried to make our work develop and evolve to fit with that.
From the start we thought that not enough had been done on architecture’s representation in film. It had mainly been used as a ‘tool’ for architects to promote their work or themselves. We realised that architecture was challenging territory to work on in terms of filmmaking, especially as we wanted to express things other than simply making a great portrait of great men. We thought we could make cinematographically interesting films that could also be challenging in terms of the way we understand space and architecture.
The public saw the first film (Koolhaas Houselife) as provocative and amusing, and we were keen to develop the way we were perceived. We didn’t want to be restricted to being seen as ‘the ones that make films on housekeepers’, so we thought it could be interesting to develop our focus a bit. We kept the concept of observing and challenging experimental architecture through daily life, but recounted it though the experience we had of actually living in the spaces. All the films now are based on our own lived experiences. For each film, we live in the spaces for a while, a month or so. We try to be a guest in an apartment in the big residential areas such as the Barbican or the Bjarke Ingels building (in The Infinite Happiness). We then make a sort of diary of our own experience. That was the intent, to talk about architecture from experience point of view rather than a theoretical or an aesthetic point of view.