'Through Architects' Eyes', an evening of films picked by architects, and organised jointly by the British Film Institute and the riba as part of Architecture Week, was an extraordinary event.
To the non-architects present, what was remarkable was that style, filmic genre or narrative had absolutely nothing to do with what the choices had in common.
However, seen through architects'eyes, what linked the films was a preoccupation with the life of the city, the intertwining between the infinite variety of urban form and its echo: the endless wealth of the city's inhabitation.
Jazz of Lights showed New York in real time, without a subject other than what was going on in the streets just then, at that moment. Watching it, you could not distance yourself from it: the city enchanted the viewer, as if it were the here and now.
La Jetee was set in a world with no Paris, devasted by nuclear destruction. The ordinary Paris of the everyday, with its inconsequential sights and sounds, is a longed for utopia, only to be visited by memory. The preciousness of the external urban life is devastatingly present, as we imagine the full horror of its permanent loss.
The final film of the night, A Diary for Timothy, was made in 1945 for an imaginary baby. In explaining to this child, who would now be aged 55, what we were fighting for, this film as well had recourse again and again to the scenes of the banal life of London: its pubs, cafes, buses and streets.
It seems that from observing these film choices, all of which have subjects not explicitly 'architectural', it is possible to comprehend what is particular about the architectural sensibility. For once, it revealed what we treasure in common with a wider perspective, not what makes us different.