Uses of Architecture for Imagery in Science Fiction

In many science fiction media, the use of imagery helps the viewers/readers visualize the world in which the author is trying to convey. I believe that there are novels written by some science fiction authors that borrowed heavy influences of the surrounding architecture based on the time period which they lived in. For instance, borrowing heavily from destroyed buildings post-world war can influence writers to have their readers imagine similar types of destruction. Conversely, Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) borrows influence from newly aspirated design in architecture such as art-deco which emerged from art-nouveau during the roaring twenties, and the Bauhaus movement in Germany (1919-1930) during the making of the film.

Art Deco in Metropolis

Metropolis (Fritz Lang 1927)












Bauhaus Metropolis

Bauhaus – Metropolis (Fritz Lang 1927)

Some of these picture examples show how much influence the architecture of that era helped with imagery in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. These images help the viewers to understand the extent of industrialization in Metropolis which I consider to be a Utopia within a Dystopia. On one side of Metropolis, there is a utopia above ground where all the high class people live, and underground, what the workers would call a dystopia. Metropolis is one of the most significant science fiction movies ever made, and it tackles a few tropes about sectarianism, and utopianism as well as human artificial intelligence.

Another good example of the use of imagery with architecture is in Le Voyage Dans La Lune (Georges Melies, 1902) where we see what Georges’ imagination made up when thinking of the landscape on the moon, and what secrets it may hold. The harsh landscape, giant alien looking plants and large caves containing things that we would normally find on earth goes to show some of the limitations in our imagination.

Trip to the Moon

Le Voyage Dans La Lune (Georges Melies 1902)


There are many more types of science fiction subgenres that again, use architecture to help the readers/viewers understand the author’s vision. The idea of space exploration and colonization has led us to some great imagery. The imagery associated with technological advancements that are vastly superior to our current technology—so much so that it looks unfathomable.

eagle magazine

Eagle Magazine July 1950


This example of a 1950’s comic shows a great example of what the author had in mind about space colonization/civilization on other planets (in this case, Venus)

Ghost in the shell city scape

Ghost in the Shell (Masamune, Shirow 2017)


The common association with technological advancements is the urbanization of cities into what we would again consider to be a metropolis. The above example is a good depiction of what a futuristic city scape is like, massive holograms, tall glass buildings, apartment complexes all converge to give a sense of being urban, yet full of advanced technology.


Works Cited:

Căplescu, Oana Andreea. “Architecture In Science Fiction Movies.” 2 February 2015. 6 December 2018.

Ghost in the Shell. By Masamune Shirow. Dir. Rupert Sanders. Prods. Avi Arad, Steven Paul and Michael Costigan. Paramount Pictures, 2017.

Jackson, Gordon and Charlie Jane Anders. Great Science Fiction Creators Who Have Studied Architechture. 30 September 2011. Web Article.

Jacob, Sam. Architecture, Philip K Dick and Science-fiction Film. 4 August 2011. Web Article.

McCrary, Montez. The Architecture of “Metropolis (1927)”. 31 May 2012. Web Article.

Metropolis. By Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang. Dir. Fritz Lang. Prod. Erich Pommer. Ufa, 1927.

Varah, Chad and Frank Hampson. “Eagle.” Hampson, Frank. Eagle. United Kingdom: Hulton Press; IPC Magazines, 1950.

Voyage Dans La Lune. By Georges Méliès. Dir. Georges Méliès. Prod. Georges Méliès. 1902.



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