For Marcio Kogan, the São Paulo–based architect who has been obsessed with film from a very early age, making movies and making architecture are inextricable pursuits. “For me, a new design project is like a huge fog—I can’t see anything,” says Kogan, who is known for his opulent though understated houses and the madcap short films he creates that star these buildings. “I get a bit anxious about solving the problem—I become a little afflicted.” To navigate these mysterious landscapes, he imagines himself as a character walking through the haze. He might envision a white wall; beside this white wall he sees a spiral stair and may decide, in his mind, to put a window in this wall. Then he might shift its position and change the facade again. “I create stories about these imaginary projects, picture someone passing by who is looking at or thinking about this facade,” he says. “It’s the way my mind works—I am addicted to thinking as if I’m writing a script.” At night he lies awake in bed ruminating on his stories. But once he is ready to bounce ideas off his team and build a conversation, things become more concrete. “At this point, the stories are becoming sketches,” says the architect. His team then transforms his ideas into drawings, computer models, and renderings.
Kogan says he sees the world as if looking through a viewfinder. “I imagine things in my life on a screen. In my projects, there is this wide perspective: forms are lowslung and very broad,” he says. Kogan uses the moving image for more literal versions of his stories; once a house is complete, he might film an eccentric tour, guided by a maid or a cat, for example. Architecture tells an abstracted version of the tale, one that is communicated by triggering emotions. But there is one emotion he is unable to spark with his built work, and moviemaking fills this void for the architect. “All my films have humor—I have a lot of humor in my life,” Kogan notes. At a lecture a few years ago, a student asked him to explain the comedy in his architecture. “I stood in silence for five minutes. I left the university and kept thinking and I had no answer,” he says. “Architecture is a very serious thing—there is no humor.”