Future Imperfect




Professor:  Leighton Beaman

Rhode Island School of Design

Course #: TBA

Location: TBA

Day/Time: TBA

Science Fiction is the improbable made possible
— Rod Sterling

Science Fiction is a genre that explores the hopes and anxieties of today through the possibilities of tomorrow. Film necessitate that these possibilities be given physical specificity, transforming narrative forms into design propositions. More than just stories, these are speculations on how those hopes and anxieties must manifest into material, spatial, cultural, and political realities.

Future Imperfect is a design theory seminar, that mines the territory of science fiction film for design investigation and inspiration. This semester we will consider a number of seminal science fiction films that have shaped the way we think about design, by imagining a diverse collection of possible futures.

Each week we will view and discuss one film, exploring its place within the current cultural and theoretical milieu, and examining it’s impact on design thinking and practice.

Rather than viewing films chronologically, by nationality, or as members of sub genres, we will organize them by the theoretical foundations that make their speculative worlds possible, allowing us to make connections across eras, techniques, technologies, styles, and cultural differences.

Below is a list of films, both required and recommended. However, we will only review 12 in total, the names and dates of each film viewed this semester can be found in the “Schedule” section.


  • The Over Incubated Baby | 1901 | 74 sec. | Dir: Walter R. Booth

  • Metropolis | 1927 | 153 / 117 min.| Dir: Fritz Lang

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey | 1968 | 142 min. | Dir: Stanley Kubrick

  • Solaris | 1972 | 166 min. | Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky

  • World on a Wire | 1973 | 205 min. (Part 1, 100 min. / Part 2, 105 min. ) | Rainer Werner Fassbinder

  • Alien | 1979 | 117 | Dir: Ridley Scott

  • Ghost In The Shell | 1995 | 82 min. | Dir: Mamoru Oshii

  • Primer | 2004 | 77 min. | Dir: Shane Carruth

  • Ex Machina | 2014 | 108 min. | Dir: Andrew Garland


  • The Conquest of the Pole | 1912 | 32 min. | Dir: Georges Melies

  • Le Jetee | 1962 | 28 min. | Dir: Chris Marker

  • The Andromeda Strain | 1971 | 130 min. | Dir: Robert Wise

  • Stalker | 1979 | 161 min. | Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky

  • Blade Runner | 1982 | 117 min. | Dir: Ridley Scott

  • Brazil | 1985 | 125 min. | Dir: Terry Gilliam

  • 12 Monkeys | 1995 | 128 min. | Dir: Terry Gilliam

  • Children of Men | 2006 | 109 min. | Dir: Alphonso Curon


  • The Day the Earth Stood Still | 1951 | 92 min. | Dir: Robert Wise

  • Gattaca | 1997 | 106 | Dir: Andrew Niccole

  • Dark City | 1998 | 130 min. | Dir: Alex Proyas

  • The Matrix | 1999 | 150 min. | Dir: Lana & Lilly Wachoski

  • District 9 | 2009 | 112 min. | Dir: Neill Blomkamp

  • Black Panther | 2018 | 134 min. | Dir. Ryan Coogler


  • Alphaville | 1965 | 99 min. Dir: Jean-Luc Godard

  • THX 1138 | 1971 | 95 min. | Dir: Georeg Lucus

  • Dune | 1984 | 136 min. | Dir: (David Lynch) Alan Smithee



This Section is Under Construction

All work and participation is graded using a points systems. Points are determined using three criteria, and distributed by the stated percentages and/or points. Points translate to grades from A - D in  +/- increments.


Grading will be divided into the following areas:

Participation / Group Discussion /Attendance: 50 %

Final Project: 50%



Grading will be determined by how well each student performs in the following areas: 

The understanding of the course/studio project at hand, combined with an appropriate process of inquiry & development of a consistent and rigorous analysis/design process with clearly articulated ideas.

The ability to accurately and precisely craft a digital and physical response to the analysis/design assignment.  This includes the ability to clearly and concisely communicate ideas, and produce well-formed digital and physical: models, diagrams, drawings, and images the project.

The ability to engage in the assignment with fellow students and your instructor & the ability to receive criticism and incorporate this into your project’s development. Your ability to work in groups, meet deadlines, and contribute to studio culture.



A | Excellent:  90 - 100 points  
Project / Course Work surpasses expectations in terms of inventiveness, appropriateness, verbal and visual presentation, conceptual rigor, craft, and personal development. Student pursues concepts and techniques above and beyond what is discussed in class. Project is complete on all levels.
B | Good: 80 - 90 points
Project / Course Work is thorough, well researched, diligently pursued, and successfully completed.  Student pursues ideas and suggestions presented in class and puts in effort to resolve required projects. Project is complete on all levels and demonstrates potential for excellence.
C | Acceptable: 70 - 80 points
Project / Course Work meets the minimum requirements. Suggestions made in class are not pursued with dedication or rigor. Project is incomplete in one or more areas.
D | Poor: 60 - 70 points
Project / Course Work is incomplete. Basic skills, technological competence, verbal clarity, and/or logic of presentation are not level-appropriate. Student does not demonstrate the required design skill and knowledge base. Work is incomplete.



The following adhere to the University of Virginia polices and may impact your grade. Please read carefully.


Students are required to participate in all class activities. Participation includes completing assignments and group presentations, contributing to class discussions, and presenting work. Each student is expected to come to class prepared with questions and comments about assigned reading(s), and completed assignments.


Students who are 15 minutes late to class will be marked late. 3 late days = 1 unexcused absence. For Lecture courses and seminars 2 unexcused absences = the lowering of one +/- grade. For studios, 3 unexcused absences will result in a lowering of one +/-grade. An additional +/- grade will be deducted for each unexcused absence thereafter. Regardless of tardy of absence, students are responsible to complete all assignments on time, unless alternative arrangements have been made with the instructor.

Students seeking an excused absence must inquire with the instructor prior to the absence, except in cases of medical emergencies.


The University of Virginia is committed to the principles of intellectual honesty and integrity. Members of the UVa community are expected to maintain complete honesty in all academic work, presenting only that which is their own work in tests and assignments. This includes recognition and adherence to the UVa honor code.


Any student who feels s/he may require accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately at the beginning of the semester to discuss specific needs. In addition, please contact the Student Disability Access Center at the University of Virginia's Department of Student Health directly to coordinate reasonable accommodations prior to the start of any UVa course if you need to discuss or implement solutions to specific needs.



This Section is Under Construction


Students are required to submit documentation of their work to A: the course instructor & B: the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Incomplete and/or failing grades will be given to any student who fails to submit both sets of work documentation. Late submissions will be graded accordingly. Documenting your work for each part is as follows:


Students are required to submit documentation of their work. Late submissions will be graded accordingly. Incomplete and/or failing grades will be given to any student who fails to submit both sets of work documentation

Documentation of all assignments and final project must be submitted to the instructor via Google Drive folder (link will be provided). This submission must include the following:

 1. Packaged InDesign file + PDF of final project board
 2. Photos of your final models, installations, prototypes, etc
 3. All files and requirements from previous assignments 

File naming convention for Individuals: 

For example: 2018_ARCH3020_Smith_A01_CirculationDiagram

File naming convention for Teams or Groups:

For example: 2018_ARCH3020_GroupA_A01_CirculationDiagram




Citing and crediting the intellectual and physical property of others, when used in your own work, is an important part of being both an academic and professional. It is considered plagiarism when non-trivial portions of another's work is not credited or cited properly.

Failure to cite work used will effect your grade and may lead to an honor-code violation and/or university discipline. To avoid this, be rigorous in documenting what and where you get information and include proper credits and citations when you disseminate your work: Portfolios, Presentations, Websites, etc.

The School of Architecture Library has created a citation guide to assit you in determining how to credit a diverse collection of works by others. For this course both Chicago Style and MLA are acceptable protocols. You may use either, but no both. 




This Section is Under Construction


00. 00. 2019


  • Syllabus Review | Q & A

  • Schedule Review

  • Course Content Warnings

  • Le Jetee | 1962 | 28 min. | Dir: Chris Marker




00. 00. 2019

film: Metropolis | 1927 | Fritz Lang

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: World on a Wire | 1973 | Rainer Werner Fassbinder

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: Solaris | 1972 | Andrei Tarkovsky

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: Brazil | 1985 | Terry Gilliam

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA


THX 1138

00. 00. 2019

film: THX 1138 | 1971 | Georeg Lucus

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: Dark City | 1998 | Alex Proyas (this guy directed “the crow” before Dark City - crazy)

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: Ghost In The Shell | 1995 | Mamoru Oshii

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: 2001: A Space Odyssey | 1968 | Stanley Kubrick

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: Children of Men | 2006 | Alphonso Curon

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA




00. 00. 2019

film: Blade Runner | 1982 | Ridley Scott

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



Black Panther  

00. 00. 2019

film: Black Panther | 2018 | Ryan Coogler

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



00. 00. 2019

film: Stalker | 1979 | Andrei Tarkovsky

discussion: TBA

assignment:  TBA



04. 18. 2018


  • Project Presentations & Discussions



04. 25. 2018


  • Project Presentations & Discussions