Cathedrals of Culture

centre pompidou


“I was not meant to be an isolated monument. I am not just a museum or a library. I am a living, breathing culture machine.”  Centre Pompidou, Paris. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.

Fall is the season of culture. As soon as September arrives the electric polls on street corners turn colorful with poster announcements about festivals, concerts and other cultural events. The current ongoing event for me is the Vancouver International Film Festival where in the duration of two weeks around 150 movies from around the world are played. I have noticed that the Canadians are welcoming with generous curiosity and interest the foreign movies as tickets sell out very quickly and the lines in front of the venues resemble a climate change protest.

The first movie for me this year was Cathedrals of Culture, which coincides with the North American premiere of the movie.

oslo opera hause


Oslo Opera House. Designed by Snøhetta. Photo credit to

What would buildings say if they could talk to us? This question perhaps inspired Win Wenders, Robert Redford and four other directors to create a documentary film about the cathedrals of culture. Cathedrals of Culture is divided to six parts each one presented by a different director. The cathedrals in the movie are not religious establishments, they are buildings designed and constructed to serve and elevate the most delicate need of the society – the need for culture.

Cathedrals of Culture is a three-hour architectural hymn about six buildings – Berlin Philharmonic, National Library of Russia, Halden Prison, Salk Institute, Oslo Opera House and Centre Pompidou. Each building demonstrates its meaning with its own voice and it becomes the existing evidence of the life within itself.  The movie is fashioned as a audio-visual confession that illuminates a more profound dimension of architecture – the soul of the building as a synonym of the aggregation of the architect’s ideas, the purpose in society and the inspiration on those who sojourn in it.

Cathedrals of Culture is not an ordinary documentary film, with artistic sensation of ‘Baraka’(Ron Fricke, 1992) and blended with 3D technologies manifests the intellect behind the art of architecture.


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