Private Project

Under The Skin Of Design

A film about ornament, fashion, conflict and maths, featuring world renowned theorist Charles Jencks and the work of Foreign Office Architects.

This film takes a close look at a building whose unique and ambitious facade has become renowned for its distinctive patterning and mathematical rigour. However, beneath this external skin, the interior layout is an ambitious experiment in organisational design. This was never going to be simple…

Under The Skin Of Design tells the story of award winning architecture where design is used as an agent of change. Warmly human moments and startlingly frank interviews reveal not only vision and creativity but also the pressure and politics under the skin of a unique new iconic building. It takes a fresh look at how people and organisations affect the built environment, addressing economic, social and organisational dynamics, aesthetics and buildability - illustrating the power of place in our everyday lives.

Addressing universal themes of modern and postmodern culture, Under The Skin Of Design has international relevance. Global players in the architectural scene, Foreign Office Architects was named for its multicultural outlook and is well known in the architectural community, having close links to Harvard and Princeton in the US, the Architectural Association and other bodies in the UK. They have ties in Spain, throughout Europe and the middle east and further afield to Japan. Charles Jencks, originally from North America now based in London, is a major voice in 20th Century art theory and has lectured around the world, including in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Milan, Barcelona, and in the US at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale. He has been featured at the V&A museum in London and has appeared on numerous cultural broadcasts on UK and international programmes.

  • Audrey Aquilina
    Unfolding Landscape, Where's Alan
  • Charles Jencks
    Key Cast
    The Brits Who Built The Modern World, American Masters, Recreating Eden, Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century, Full House, Kings Of Infinite Space, Symbolic Architecture, Space on Earth, The Late Show, New Moderns, The Southbank Show, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Gardens of the Mind (BBC), Philip Johnson The Godfather, Richard Meier The Frame, Daniel Libeskind The Spiral, Frank Lloyd Wright Tin Gods
  • Alejandro Zaera-Polo
    Key Cast
    Under The Skin Of Design (Foreign Office Architects)
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature, Television
  • Genres:
    Arts, Architecture, Design, Education, Culture, Observational
  • Runtime:
    60 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 4, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Architecture and Design Film Festival
    New York
    October 17, 2015
  • San Diego Design Film Festival
    San Diego
    October 21, 2015
  • Lund International Architecture Festival
    Lund, Sweden
    September 7, 2015
  • London Architecture Week
    September 19, 2015
  • IDFA International Documentary Festival
    November 20, 2015
    Selected for the Docs for Sale market (not entered for screening)
  • Archiflix Film Festival
    Melbourne Australia
    February 25, 2016
  • Archiflix Film Festival
    April 14, 2016
  • International Film Festival
    July 5, 2016
    Nominated: Best Director (Documentary), Best Cinematography (Documentary)
Director Biography - Audrey Aquilina

I am a film maker with a craft background in documentary & drama. My work has screened on UK and international TV and film festivals, with credits on multi award winning programmes. I now produce and direct after several years at the coal face in camera and editing.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Under the Skin of Design was conceived as an architectural film but grew into a more complex story about corporate and personal politics as well as aspiration, creativity, design and practicality. Access to both sides of the architect / client equation allowed me to tell the story of building a new institution from the contrasting and often conflicting perspectives of the people who make it happen.

Hearing end users gives a sense of intimacy while we see how the design philosophies of a leading architectural practice are actually applied. Theory is lightened by anecdote and some disarmingly frank revelations on how relationships and politics are managed.

Before entering film and TV I trained as an architect. My first feature documentary, Under The Skin Of Design, reflects my deep interest in how humans shape and respond to their environment and the intellectual and aesthetic challenges of architecture as a cultural and political art.