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Department of Architecture

cinema and architecture
urban cinematics
everyday life
cinematic spatial ethnography


Until 2021, I directed a research group entitled DIGIS (Digital Studio for Research in Design, Visualisation and Communication), which over the course of the last two decades had been investigating the intersection of Architecture, Cinema, and Digitality, developing novel modes of investigation, in the belief that the moving image provides us with new perceptual equipment to grasp the complexity of architectural and urban phenomena.   DIGIS focused on new techniques, methodologies and potentialities of digital media in design-related disciplines and had over the years, developed into a unique international centre for practice-led creative experiment, with a thriving PhD and advanced research programme.

SUMMARY OF MY TEACHING AND RESEARCH:  see a  2021 interview by Yufei Li, published in Scroope 30






  • Urban cinematics  -  best example of this strand is Cinematic Geographies of Battersea – a large AHRC funded project  for which I was the PI in collaboration with the Survey of London (English Heritage) and the University of Liverpool (2011 – 2013).   Using the location of Battersea in South London as a case study, the project examined how the area has been portrayed in films over the 20th century with a view  to track down its evolution and transformation.  The approach enabled us to excavate the successive cinematic strata accumulated over the urban fabric, making visible the emergence of the modern city and its subsequent transformations since the year 1895. See: Cinematic Urban Geographies. (New York : Palgrave Macmillan 2017)  
  • A cinematic approach to everyday life and architecture:   Film constitutes the most comprehensive lived in building data in existence – a largely ignored and untapped resource.  Fiction films in particular  are ‘equipment for living’ and can be construed as a form of practice of everyday life.  I have compiled the first cinematic encyclopedia of architectural spaces and building elements (doors, windows, stairs etc) - see: Cinematic  aided  design - an everyday life approach to architecture [Routledge 2018]
  • The museum of the future:  over the years I have been researching how new technologies, at the intersections of material and digital culture, open the way for new forms of museum spectatorship, making our cultural heritage more interesting and engaging as well as reaching new audiences.  The idea of the museum and my work on cinema, architecture and the city have some fundamental overlaps as we can assign a museographic function to film that has unwittingly preserved and archived the world around us.   A key recent project in this strand is the Virtual San Pier Maggiore project  - The digital repatriation of Florence’s Renaissance past and the  future of 3D visualization for cultural heritage – with Dr Donal Cooper from the History of Art Department in Cambridge. Our digital reconstruction was on display at the National Gallery part of the exhibition “Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece” that opened November 2015 and lasted until March 2016. See:



Venice Biennale 2021 Film Studio:

CineMuseSpace Exhibitions - Shanghai, Nanjing, Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridge


  • 2017- 2020: Principal Investigator for an AHRC grant [value £460’000] CineMuseSpace: A Cinematic Musée Imaginaire of Spatial Cultural Differences [2017-2020]:
  • 2015:  Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme Research & National Gallery [with Dr Donal Cooper] Virtual San Pier Maggiore: The digital repatriation of Florence’s Renaissance past and the future of 3D visualisation for cultural heritage
  • 2011 - 2013  Cinematic Geographies of Battersea: Urban Interface & Site-Specific Spatial Knowledge - an AHRC grant - in collaboration with English Heritage, University of Liverpool and Edinburgh (PI:  Prof François Penz  Value:  £200’000)


Key publications: 


RECENT BOOKS [2017 - 2022]

Penz, François, and Janina Schupp, eds. 2022. The Everyday in Visual Culture: Slices of LivesAbingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Penz, François, and Janina Schupp, eds. 2020. A Catalogue Raisonné of Everyday Life Activities. 150pp. Printed in Shanghai and Cambridge. ISBN 978-1-78972-163-8

Penz, François. 2018. Cinematic Aided Design: An Everyday Life Approach to Architecture. 1 edition. New York: Routledge.

Penz, François, and Richard Koeck, eds. 2017. Cinematic Urban Geographies. New York : Palgrave Macmillan.



Penz, François. 2022. ‘Cinema as Urban Modelling: Understanding Urban Phenomena through Fiction Films’. In The Routledge Companion to Media and the City, edited by Erica Stein, Germaine Halegoua, and Brendan Kredell. London and New York: Routledge.

Penz, François, Janina Schupp, Maureen Thomas, and Matthew Flintham. 2022. ‘CineMuseSpace - A Cinematic Exploration of the Minor Magic of Everyday Life’. In The Everyday in Visual Culture: Slices of Lives, edited by François Penz and Janina Schupp, 175–98. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Schupp, Janina, and François Penz. 2021. ‘A Digital Cinematic Museum of the Everyday’. Screen 62 (2): 254–68.

Schupp, Janina, and François Penz. 2021. ‘Cinematic Rhythmanalysis of Architecture: Mining Moving Images for Post-Occupancy Studies’. The Journal of Architecture 26 (7): 1054–81.

Penz, François. 2021. ‘Urban Cinematics and the Revenge of Place’. In Eyes of the City: Architecture and Urban Space after Artificial Intelligence, edited by Valeria Federighi, Monica Naso, and Daniele Belleri. Berlin: Hatje Cantz.

Sunikka-Blank, Minna, Ronita Bardhan, Janina Schupp, Jaideep Prabhu, and François Penz. 2020. ‘Films as Source of Everyday Life and Energy Use: A Case of Indian Cinema’. Energy Research & Social Science 69 (November): 1–13.

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.







Other publications: 



Teaching and Supervisions



PhDs:  I supervise four PhD students - I co-supervise a part-time RCA PhD student.

Undergraduate teaching: I supervise three 3rd Year dissertations



Undregraduate teaching:

  • Year 2:  the culture of images (1) – The static image (photography) & architecture and the moving image
  • Year 3:  the culture of images (2) – the city and the moving image

Graduate teaching:

  • Master in Architecture and Urban Studies [MAUS] and the Master in Architecture and Urban Design  [MAUD]: Urban Cinematics seminars  [4 x 2 hour seminars] 

 MPhil in Film and Screen Studie [MML]

In 2006 I  co-founded the multi-disciplinary MPhil in Screen Media & Cultures – since 2016 rebranded as the MPhil in Film and Screen Studies (FSS) - based in MML.

  • One two-hour seminar (Space) as a core teacher in the Michaelmas term
  • Four two-hour seminars for my Urban Cinematics module option in the Lent term 


Professor of Architecture and the Moving Image
Former Head of the Department of Architecture [2017-2019]
Emeritus Fellow of Darwin College
NB. I am no longer accepting new graduate students
Director of Studies for Darwin College
Professor François  Penz