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As part of the CACity (Cinema and Architecture in the City) Research Group's activities, architect and film specialist Dr Gul Kacmaz Erk devised the Vacant/Occupied themed workshop for individuals interested in filming architecture and the city, in collaboration with filmmaker Paddy Cahill. The result was a one-week film workshop open to all who are interested in the relationship between architecture and cinema. No filmmaking experience was expected, with the target of the workshop to make a short film no longer than 3 minutes within the boundaries of the city of Belfast.


Film makes use of design variables such as light, colour, movement, texture, pattern, scale and transparency as a significant aspect of its narration, while form, space, time, context, nature, sound, text, fabric and other design elements are all included in the core of a film. So how can we benefit from filmmaking to express our ideas on architecture and the city? Can film be a bridge between architects and the public? With these questions in mind, the workshop aimed to view and discuss films about architecture and the city, and then re-produce Belfast through film. In doing so, we intended to develop an awareness of the relationship between cinema and architecture in the city.

Duration: 1 week (Monday to Friday), 8-12 June. Workshop meetings where scheduled for 10 am - 1 pm each day, with a inclusive lunch following. Participants where also asked to work on their films at other times.


Fee: £20 per participant


Venue: PLACE, 7-9 Lower Garfield Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT1 1FP, UK


Number of participants: 17 participants (7 architects, 4 filmmakers, 3 artists, 2 anthropologist and 1 historian) (the workshop was open to all)


Group work: Participants worked in pairs.


Output: one short film per group (maximum 3 minutes long)


Experience: Filmmaking experience was not required but participants were encouraged to familiarise themselves with the editing software they intend to use (such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker) one week before the workshop.





Prof Francois Penz (architecture-film expert, University of Cambridge)

Prof John Thomson (director, ICRH)

Nicola Lyons (NI Screen, Production Manager)

Liat Savin Ben-Shoshan (Tel Aviv University)




Dr Gul Kacmaz Erk is an architect, and lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. Her academic interest in cinema started more than 20 years ago, and she has been doing research on ‘architecture and film’ as well as ‘cinema and the city’ ever since, while also using film in her teaching. Gul studied architecture at Middle East Technical University and Istanbul Technical University, and did research at the University of Pennsylvania and University College Dublin. Before Queen’s, she taught at Philadelphia University, Delft University of Technology, and Izmir University of Economics. Gul has attended conferences, run workshops and published in many countries. Among other publications, she has a little book entitled Architecture and Cinema: A Relation of Representation Based on Space.


Paddy Cahill is a self-shooting producer, director, cameraman and editor based in Dublin. His work covers a broad range of subjects and themes, with a particular focus on films about art and architecture. This interest in architecture led him to making a 2009 documentary about the building Liberty Hall, which was broadcast on RTÉ1. Together with architecture critic Shane O’Toole he is currently making a documentary based on interviews with the architect Ronnie Tallon about his award-winning, seminal Carroll’s Cigarette Factory in Dundalk. Architecture has also been a recurrent theme in his series Cycling with... which is a side project made with Philip de Roos and is a series of video interviews with various people that take place while cycling around different cities.  



Day 1 Monday 8 June

The workshop started with tea/coffee, the introduction and screening, and discussion of film clips in terms of their architectural and urban qualities. The screening included clips introduced by the tutors as well as the ones selected and provided by participants. (Each participant was expected to bring in a 1-2 minute film clip or short film that they liked and felt was related to the workshop/theme.)


Lunch was served at 1 pm, groups where formed after lunch.



Participants explored the city in pairs during the afternoon, and photographs/sketchs/drawigs/collages for the (A3) concept board and/or storyboard of their film were worked on.



Day 2 Tuesday 9 June

In the second meeting of the workshop, the participants discussion revolved around the initial ideas through concept boards and storyboards, and continued observation of the intitial film clips. Each group then selected an architectural/urban theme for their film related to the main theme Vacant/Occupied.





During the afternoon, participants explored the city in their groups and started shooting the footage for their short films.



Day 3 Wednesday 10 June

In the third meeting the participants looked at the footage collected by the groups and discussed each of their themes and film proposals.





Groups continued shooting the footage for their films.



Day 4 Thursday 11 June

During the fourth meeting, Paddy Cahill answered any technical questions, while participants started looking for the right sounds and music, if not using the original sound of the footage. Editing was also started, as the submission was due on Friday at noon!





The afternoon was spent working on editing.



Day 5 Friday 12 June

In the fifth meeting of the workshop, participants worked on their films at PLACE, helping each other with editing, sound/music, and credits. With the finalizing of each film finishing at noon, a screening and evaluation by each group in a closed peer-review session with Paddy took place.





The Grand Finale: A reception and public screening, and a paneled review of all films was held at the QFT on Friday afternoon.

This was free of charge, with a wine reception following.

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