What I saw in Venice - Biennale 2021


  • François Penz image/svg+xml University of Cambridge

    François Penz, an architect by training is a Professor of Architecture and the Moving Image in the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art at the University of Cambridge where he directs the Digital Studio for Research in Design, Visualization and Communication. He is also the Director of The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies -the research arm of the Department of Architecture - and a Fellow of Darwin College. He has written widely on issues of cinema, architecture and the city: 'Cinema & Architecture' (1997), ‘Architectures of Illusion’ (2003), ‘Screen Cities’ (2003) and recently co-edited ‘Urban Cinematics: Understanding Urban Phenomena Through the Moving Image’ (2011). In 2013 he completed a major Arts and Humanities Research Council project – The Cinematic Geographies of Battersea. His monograph on Cinematic Aided Design: the Architecture of Everydayness will be published by Routledge in 2016. He is also co-editing a book on Cinematic Urban Geographies to be published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2016.




Venice Biennale, Venicinema


François Penz, in his essay titled as "What I saw in Venice – biennale 2021" shared his experiences about workshop in Venice – VENICINEMA, Understanding Cities Through Film – in September 2022 at the European Cultural Academy. To get to know a city though cinema is always an enjoyable and informative task, which varies depending on whether one has a prior knowledge of the city or not. But a prior knowledge of a city through film can only provide a ‘theoretical’ insight that only gets ‘realised’ while actually being physically present in time and place. In other words, ‘watching a city film can be a three-way process: we see a film and gain a knowledge of a city; we then visit this city and experience a form of déja vu; we then watch the film again and the experience of having seen the place acts as a memory recall that gives a much stronger emotional connection to both the film and the city. Venice offers a layered richness of experience through cinema as a place to be discovered not only for foreigners but even for Italians. The aim of this workshop was to engage the participants’ interest in the various facets of the relationship between cinema and Venice, the opportunity to reflect on its characterisation in the movies.  The study of Venetian narrative films not only opened the path to an innovative reflection on the complexity of the city as experience but also provide a basic understanding of screen language that equipped participants to make their own short films.


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  • Cunningham, Gail, and Stephen Barber. 2007. London Eyes: Reflections in Text and Image. Polygons, v. 13.
  • New York ; Oxford: Berghahn Books.
  • Penz, François. 2018. ‘Cinéroma’. In Eternal City: Rome in the Photographs Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects, edited by Marco Iuliano and Gabriella Musto, 45–50. Milan: Skira.
  • Penz, François, Aileen Reid, and Maureen Thomas. 2017. ‘Cinematic Urban Archaeology: The Battersea Case’. In Cinematic Urban Geographies, edited by François Penz and Richard Koeck. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Penz, François, and Maureen Thomas. 2020. ‘Cinematics in Architectural Practice and Culture: The Cambridge Project’. In Architecture Filmmaking, edited by Igea Troiani and Hugh Campbell, 335–56. Bristol; Chicago: Intellect.




How to Cite

Penz, F. (2022). What I saw in Venice - Biennale 2021. Journal of Design for Resilience in Architecture and Planning, 3((Special Issue), 01–08. https://doi.org/10.47818/DRArch.2022.v3si067



Cinema and Architecture