It is common to find movies about medicine, fashion, technology, and sales, but architecture and construction are rarely covered in films. Streaming platforms such as Netflix and YouTube are changing this phenomenon, one construction documentary at a time.
Whether looking for inspiration for your next project or simply trying to pass some time, construction documentaries are an excellent source of entertainment, education, and industry trends.
Construction documentaries provide viewers with crucial infotainment options, spanning engineering, interior design, and architectural interests. Some documentaries offer valuable insights into the architecture design process, while others focus on engineering excellence and the digital disruption of construction.
Nonetheless, this documentary compilation will provide essential lessons and entertainment to amateurs and construction professionals. Finding the proper construction documentary can be difficult, given the number of documentaries that video streaming platforms are churning out every month.
Here is a quick run-down of the top 10 construction documentaries to watch in 2022.
Table of Contents
1. Industrialized Revolution with the Queen of Prefab
The Industrialized Revolution with the Queen of Prefab features leading architecture and construction firms deploying industrialized construction techniques. This documentary follows Amy Marks, an industrialized construction expert, as she explores prefabrication and DfMA in construction. Amy Marks brings a wealth of knowledge on prefabrication to this production that viewers will find helpful.
The three-part documentary series gives viewers an inside look at the operations of Environmental Air Systems (EAS), CannonDesign, and Binsky & Snyder as they adopt Industrialized Construction (IC) to improve safety, quality, and productivity.
2. Dream Big: Engineering our World
Dream Big is a 42-minute documentary film produced in 2017. The film, narrated by Jeff Bridges, focuses on innovative feats of engineering such as the Great Wall of China, the Shanghai Tower, and the Hyperloop transport.
Dream Big highlights how ancient engineers fortified the Great Wall of China against erosion using sticky rice. It also highlights the twist structure engineers used to protect the Shanghai Tower from typhoons.
The film sheds light on the evolution of architecture and engineering from ancient monoliths to modern-day metros. Dream Big: Engineering our World is an important documentary because it focuses on how modern innovation can promote infrastructure development and urbanization of desert areas.
Engineers and architects may find the discussions on buildings, monuments, roads, space stations, and satellites interesting. This documentary is available on Netflix.
3. Abstract: The Art of Design
Abstract: The Art of Design is a Netflix original documentary that explores the world of illustrators, architects, and photographers. The 2-season television series sheds light on the multifaceted world of design.
Episode 4 features Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a firm renowned for its diverse portfolio of projects. The New York and Copenhagen-based firm has worked on significant projects such as Google’s Mountain View and New York City’s World Trade Center. Watch Episode 4 to see how BIG develops a forthcoming power plant in Copenhagen.
4. Grand Designs Australia
Grand Designs Australia is one of the world’s most in-depth construction documentaries, showing incredible detail on the entire process of building a home. This documentary takes viewers on a journey from the design, architecture, and construction to the finishing and interior design of every home it features.
Grand Designs Australia is an informative film that provides viewers with tools and techniques to solve everyday construction challenges. Construction engineers and architects can benefit from this series's problem-solving techniques.
5. Cabins in the Wild with Dick Strawbridge
Cabins in the Wild, starring Engineer Dick Strawbridge and craftsman Will Hardie, is an excellent documentary for lovers of The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes. This show is based on a competition where amateurs and architects vie for the title of designing the “Ultimate Cabin in the Wild” under a tight budget.
The first eight episodes of Cabins in the Wild follow tours across eight unique cabins in Wales. In the ninth episode, the contestants construct a cabin of their own. The eight designers are given full autonomy to create the most radical cabin concept they can come up with within the given budget.
Each episode is at least 40 minutes long, and viewers are treated to a calm and engaging competition of creativity, passion, and shortfalls of construction design. The show inspires architects and construction engineers desperate to find an equilibrium between high client expectations and strict budgets.
Viewers who enjoyed The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes will enjoy the personal spin offered by Cabins in the Wild. Besides, this show is ideal for a non-professional audience and can be enjoyed purely for entertainment.
6. Building Sydney Coliseum Theater
Building Sydney Coliseum Theater explores how the architects and engineers of the Opera House had to face and resolve challenges. This documentary shows how engineers and contractors can utilize technology to de-risk the construction process, especially in complex projects with strict completion timelines.
This documentary gives viewers insight into how Hansen Yuncken leveraged digital construction methods to deliver a timely and safe project. The immovable deadline was one of the biggest challenges for the contractor and the project team. However, viewers will see that the team was able to diagnose and solve potential problems faster using technology.
7. True Stories of Connected Construction
These documentaries show how trailblazers made connected construction a reality in four groundbreaking projects: the Afsluitdijk, the Kendeda, the Coliseum and Project Nightingale. These documentaries are available on the Autodesk website. Get inspired through groundbreaking projects.
8. Building Nightingale
Building Nightingale explores the construction of rapid response hospitals to support Covid -19 patients in just nine days. Consider watching Building Nightingale and learn how passion and integrated teamwork can contribute to the success of a construction project.
The companies involved in this project faced an impossible task: converting a nine-kilometer-long Exhibition center into a hospital within nine days. Project Nightingale was a high-stress project that involved designing a simple process they could replicate.
Engineering consultants had to work with medical professionals and The British military, showing incredible flexibility and adaptability.
9. Lego House - Home of the Brick
The Lego House - Home of the Brick follows the construction of the ultimate LEGO house by Danish firm BIG. This documentary sums a 7-year journey into 47 minutes of the film, tracing the journey of the LEGO House from conception to the grand opening.
It features interviews with key members of the LEGO House project, including Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and Bjarke Ingels. The show gives viewers a front-row seat to the challenges and emotions involved in delivering the LEGO House project.
This documentary is available on Netflix and YouTube.
10. Tiny House Nation
Tiny homes have gained popularity worldwide as more people move towards sustainable living. Follow the hosts of Tiny House Nation, John Weisbarth and Zack Griffin, as they tour the U.S. and help families prepare for the tiny house lifestyle.
Construction documentaries may not be as typical as documentaries on professions such as medicine, sales, and fashion, but they are a critical source of infotainment for construction professionals.
The construction industry is dynamic, and professionals must stay updated on current trends, opportunities, and challenges. Information is vital, especially in the current age of digital transformation.
Construction documentaries such as Dream Big: Engineering our World, the Art of Design, and Cabins in the Wild, encourage limitless creativity and introduce viewers to a world with endless possibilities. Documentaries like Building the Sydney Coliseum Theater, Building Nightingale, and Lego House - Home of the Brick highlight unique construction challenges. These documentaries also present innovative problem-solving tools for everyday engineers and architects.