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6 Must-See Architecture Documentaries to Make a Powerful Impact on Your English

We all spent so much of 2020 watching one episode too many on Netflix. To shed off some of the guilt from spending too much time in front of the TV, watching documentaries can be both entertaining and educational. More so, it’s a great way to learn new architecture English words to expand your vocabulary and keep updated with current industry and design trends. Here is a list of 6 architecture documentaries and YouTube channels to add to your watch list.


1 Abstract: The Art of Design

This two-season show boasts of being a “step inside the minds of the most innovative designers in a variety of disciplines and learn how design impacts every aspect of life”. In Season 1, Episode 4, we get a look into Bjarke Ingels’ design process as he creates “pragmatic utopian” designs. However, the episodes on designers from different fields, such as that of American typeface designers Jonathan Hoefler, will expand your views on how design affects how we live our daily lives.

2 Lego House: Home of the Brick

If you enjoyed Bjarke Ingels’ Abstract episode, you have to see this 47-minute documentary on the journey of the Lego House Headquarters in Denmark. The film chronicles the process of designing to the building to the opening of the “House that Lego Built”.

3 Moriyama-San

In this hour-long award-winning film, we get a look into the life of Yasuo Moriyama, an urban hermit dwelling in a house designed by famed SANAA architect Ryue Nishizawa. In this silent documentary, we are invited to take a look into the day to day life of Moriyama and his relationship to his house and music.

4 Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

For a more urban design leaning documentary, watch the 2017 film Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. Arguably one of the most influential shapers of American cities, Jane Jacobs’ fight for a better city, and a better world at that, is explored by filmmaker Matt Trynauer. Through this thriller-cum-documentary, we see how to save her neighbourhood; Jacobs fights the Goliath city planner Robert Moses.

Youtube Channels

5 Harvard GSD

Famous for its prestigious lectures, including those from Zaha Hadid, Herzog & De Meuron, and Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa and Toyo Ito, Harvard’s Youtube channel is a great resource to hear some of the most renowned names in architecture give their ideas about our built environment.

6 Arbuckle Industries

With videos ranging from documentaries such as Archiculture, an exploration of the architecture studio, to building tours, this Youtube channel is a great resource to see features of Pritzker Prize winners such as Thom Mayne, Zaha Hadid, Richard Meier and Shigeru Ban, alongside many others.

More on YouTube

These documentaries and youtube channels are a great resource to expand your architecture knowledge in a fun and entertaining way. For further resources, don’t miss my favourite YouTube recommendations.

Reverso Context

If you find that some of these documentaries and Youtube videos have a lot of new complex words, try out ReversoContext to help you with instant translations. Don't miss my ArchiEnglish tutorial.

Word of the Day:

Pragmatic. Adjective. Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

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