Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Degree Level





Tahar Messadi

Committee Member/Reader

Russell Rudzinski

Committee Member/Second Reader

Brian Holland

Committee Member/Third Reader

Torrey Tracey


Film has the ability to evoke powerful emotional reactions from its audience through the emotional atmosphere it creates. This almost intangible quality is difficult to quantitatively describe. Architecture, to the learned few, has a similar ability to evoke emotional reactions to the spatial atmosphere it creates. Broadly, the goal of this research is to investigate the emotional influence of suspense in cinematic space and how it might quantitatively be described through a series of definable principals or space making strategies evident through an analysis of Rear Window. The medium of film allows space to be released from the physical realities architecture is bound to. Observing suspense in space solely through the medium of film, the term is allowed to maintain a more ephemeral or emotional connotation. Only by seeing cinema through the lens of an architect can the physical manifestations of suspense in space be observed. An architect’s understanding of space allows Rear Window to be understood as an architectural construction spatially facilitating suspense through Alfred Hitchcock’s direction. In contrast to a director, an architect cannot fully control the view and experience of an individual moving through space as a director controls a camera. However, the architect can use space to facilitate an experience. In a sense the architect acts as director, facilitating the arrangement of space by implying a particular sequence to facilitate an impactful development, in this case, of suspense. Within the field of architecture the idea of suspense can potentially permeate many aspects of space making. Embedded in each project lies the decision of how to guide people through a space. For instance, that guidance can render a space suspenseful by developing ambiguity between the relationships of individual spaces to the whole. The clarity of space, or lack thereof, can influence an individual’s perception and therefore their experience. This cinematic idea of facilitating emotion in film, and developing it quantitatively through space making is a powerful tool at an architect’s disposal.


Rear Window, Collage, Alfred Hitchcock, Mies van der Rohe, architecture in cinema, suspense in space