No matter how passionate you are about architecture and interior design, we are confident that you will enjoy watching the films mentioned in this curated collection of quality architectural documentaries currently available for free to Amazon Prime members.

When we learn about significant architects or notable architectural works, we cannot help but notice common underlying themes of: hardship; opposition; determination; misunderstood visions; and other obstacles & challenges.

The dogged determination of revered architects, designers and builders noted throughout the history of architecture and design should serve as vital inspiration for homeowners. In short, keep in mind that worthwhile projects are often difficult, raise unforeseen challenges, and may take longer than you ever imagined! When struggling, remind yourself that others, facing significantly more dire situations, have found viable solutions – so, you can, too!

Table of Contents

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Ballyfin: Portrait of an Irish Country House

Ballfin: Portrait of an Irish Country House Documentary Film

This documentary tells the story of the history of Ballyfin, a magnificent, Irish mansion that was built in 1820, twenty years before the start of the Great Famine, by a wealthy aristocrat. The film can be summarized concisely as the story of the rise, decline and rebirth of one of Ireland’s greatest architectural treasures. The mansion’s lineage can be broken into three phases: a family home for 100 years; a boarding school for 80 years; and an extraordinary restoration that transformed the architectural site into one of the world’s finest hotels. This beautifully filmed documentary will be especially enjoyed by anyone interested in Irish history or the restoration of grand homes and gardens.

Themes: Architecture, Ireland, Restorations, History

Year: 2017

Ballyfin Promotional Video of the 5 Star Luxury Country House Hotel

See Ballyfin: Portrait of an Irish Country House on Amazon Prime for more details.

Note: Currently available for free with ads on Prime via Freevee (previously known as IMDB TV).

Ballyfin: Portrait of an Irish Country House is also viewable on Vimeo for free.

See the Ballyfin Luxury Hotel website.


Coast Modern

Coast Modern Architecture Documentary Film on Amazon Prime

Coast Modern explores the influence of the California Modernist Style that was embraced along the West Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver, including a legacy of inspired modern dwellings. This documentary is definitely worth watching for anyone skeptical of the modern aesthetic, as the film will foster a deeper appreciation of the driving forces and vision of these pioneering architects.

Themes: Modernism, West Coast, History

Year: 2012

Coast Modern Trailer: Design Film Festival 2012

A Design Film Festival 2012: Coast Modern

See Coast Modern on Amazon Prime for more details.

Note: Currently available for free with ads on Prime via Freevee (previously known as IMDB TV).


Garbage Warrior

Garbage Warrior Architecture Documentary Film on Amazon Prime Freevee

Garbage Warrior is the inspiring story of maverick architect Michael Reynolds and his group of renegade house builders from New Mexico, as they wage a battle for radical sustainable housing construction methods and against infuriating bureaucracy. Reynolds method of home building uses recyclable refuse (e.g. tires, bottles, cans, glass) and natural materials (e.g. dirt, rock, wood), which led to the apropos nickname of “Earthships” for his innovative creations.

Themes: Off Grid Living, Sustainability, Upcycling, Innovation, Bureaucracy, Inspiration, Earthships, Passive Houses, Solar Energy

Year: 2007

Garbage Warrior Trailer

Garbage Warrior Trailer

See Garbage Warrior on Amazon Prime for more details.

Note: Currently available for free with ads on Prime via Freevee (previously known as IMDB TV).


Mont Saint-Michel: Resistance Through the Ages

Mont Saint Michel: Resistance Through the Ages Documentary Film on Amazon Prime

A comprehensive, yet quickly paced, overview of the iconic French fortress that is Mont Saint-Michel, spanning 13 centuries of history. The site is, deservedly, considered to be an architectural symbol of stubborn resistance and adaptability. The film explores why the island was built upon, how the Abbey was constructed, and how the site weathered the many natural and man-made challenges throughout its life. Modern drone footage and animation help viewers gain a greater appreciation of this famous world heritage site, which attracts over 3 million tourists each year.

Themes: France, Gothic Architecture, Construction, History

Year: 2020

Mont-Saint-Michel : Resistance through the ages - Teaser

See Mont Saint-Michel: Resistance Through the Ages on Amazon Prime for more details.


The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat

The Oyler House Richard Neutras Desert Retreat Documentary Film on Amazon Prime

This is the story of Richard Oyler, while living in the tiny desert town of Lone Pine, California, reached out to world-famous architect Richard Neutra to design a modest family home. The documentary explores the truly special client-architect relationship that was key to how a mid-century modern masterpiece was designed and built. Unique to Neutra was his willingness to work on more modest architectural projects requested by persons of ordinary means. The film was made by the step-grandson of Richard Oyler, Mike Dorsey, who sadly passed away just nine weeks after the film’s release in 2012.

Themes: Architecture, Desert Living, Modernism

Year: 2012

The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat – 4K Trailer

The Oyler House: Richard Neutra's Desert Retreat - 4K Trailer

See The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat on Amazon Prime for more details.


Posh Neighbours at War

Posh Neighbours at War Documentary Film on Amazon Prime

This voyeuristic documentary serves as a sound reminder that many architectural design choices do not, unfortunately, live in a vacuum, and property owners can behave quite irrationally. In this particular film, viewers get amusing reassurance that even the ultra-affluent tiers of London society have to deal with similar inconveniences as that of ordinary homeowners – namely, getting costly design plans approved for your home, and dealing with the annoying plans, projects and habits of “too-close-for-comfort” neighbors. That these annoyances are at a grand scale and involve more dramatic and eclectic disputes, make this film engaging to watch.

Themes: UK, London, Feuding Neighbors, Design, Planning, Renovations, Contracts, Legal Protection

Year: 2016

See Posh Neighbours at War on Amazon Prime for more details.

Posh Neighbours at War is also viewable on Veely for free.


ReWilding Kernwood

Rewilding Kernwood Alaska Documentary Film on Amazon Prime

To help you connect this captivating documentary firmly in the “architectural” category, we recommend recognizing that any off-grid story is also, at least partly, a DIY architecture project. In this documentary, ReWilding Kernwood chronicles the ending chapter of “in-the-wild” homeowners Jean Apsen and Tom Irons, as they decide to return their Alaskan log cabin homestead back to nature, after living there over a period of three decades.

In this third documentary film by the couple, the goal is to complete the circle of their off-grid adventure by erasing their footprints, dismantling their home, and restoring the site to its original wild state. Jean makes a confident promise on camera that “we won’t be coming back”!

Reviewers of the film tend to bifurcate into two camps:

  1. Viewers supportive of Jean and Tom’s decision to erase their homestead
  2. Viewers saddened and disappointed by Jean and Tom’s decision not to leave behind their homestead for others to use and enjoy (including wildlife), whether “permanently” or temporarily, especially in potentially life-threatening situations

Themes: Alaska, Off Grid Living, Wilderness, Sustainability, Stewardship, DIY, Survival

Year: 2020

ReWilding Kernwood – Official Trailer

"ReWilding Kernwood" - Official Trailer

See ReWilding Kernwood on Amazon Prime for more details.

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