How architecture revolves around Parasite| Architectural Review of the Movie by Bong Joon-ho | Surfaces Reporter

Architectural Review of ‘Parasite’ Movie Directed by Bong Joon-ho | Surfaces Reporter

Architecture is the backdrop of any movie, and the director & production designer mainly fits people, lives and emotions in the frames consisting of houses, cities, and landscapes. For most people, a movie might be a medium to have fun, but from an architect’s or designer’s perspective; there is a lot of effort goes into the incredible detailing of its creation. SURFACES REPORTER (SR) has decided to do an architectural review of the films where architecture plays a crucial role in the narrative or forms the main framework of the stories of the people working behind it. Today, SR has come up with the architectural review of the ‘Parasite’ movie directed by Bong- Joon-ho which smashed all Box Office records by garnering a whooping $ 260 mn and bagging 4 Oscars. Let's have a look at how architecture played a pivotal role in the movie.


The "Parasite" is a South Korean thriller that was also tipped for Oscars glory. The main characteristic of the film is the way it deploys architecture to drive the story. The director and designer have deftly and subtly demonstrated the role of architecture in the lives of people by using two homes. The brainchild of production designer Lee Ha Jun, the movie set is the marvel of modern architecture which in the film is designed by a fictional architect - Namgoong Hyeonja.


The film opens by showing the semi-basement apartment of the unfortunate and poor Kim’s family that lives deep down in the belly of Seoul. Originally, these homes were bunkers built during the Korean war. We can also see a glimpse of bourgeois Parky Family’s abode later in the movie where Kim’s son knocked around to apply for an interview as a tutor.

The Role of Sunlight

Lee Ha Jun has remarkably showcased the importance of sunlight in the home. According to him, ‘The poorer you are, the less sunlight you have access to, and that’s just how it is in real life as well: you have limited access to windows.” 

Parasite- architectural review

Where The Park's abode is full of natural sunlight along with a great glass wall and a garden that has a perfect 2.35:1 aspect ratio like a cinema screen, Kim’s family is living in hope since they have just a glimpse of sunlight but with a fear that they might not fall even lower. Mr. Park’s house takes many cues from modernism including a flat roof, wood floor, minimal furnishings and a large living room with the front garden as the Family TV.

The density of the Space

The Park’s house is large, tidy, orderly and minimal. It’s a big house with a big garden made of cool colors and materials in contrast to the neighbourhood Kim’s house, which has neutral colour tones, rough textures and space is denser. The numerous stairs and the density of the space shifts as you descend. There are a lot of layers. And the water that flows from top to bottom and ultimately floods Kim’s home also is the sad element.


Director has beautifully used the density to reflect the class difference of rich and poor by showcasing lower areas and elevated ones as the scene changes from the rich house to the descended basement house of the neighbourhood.

Exterior and Interior

Director purposely outfitted the contrast of the interiors with the exteriors. For the Park’s house interiors, the director used dark wood and grey-toned materials to increase the view of the garden.

Exterior and Interior Designer

Yellow-toned practical lights bathe the interiors for a warm and elegant atmosphere. Where the Kim’s home, in contrast, has a bar-covered window and the rain that floods and destroys their house.

Small, Mouldy and Inconvenient Bathroom 

The film showcases the semi-basement bathroom of Kim’s family as close to the ceiling as possible. The production designer recalled his memory of living temporarily in a semi-basement house during his college days to design the exact same space.


Kim's basement apartment, Park’ house and the surrounding neighbourhood are all sets built for the film.

Let us know what were your first thoughts as an architect or designer when you watched this movie in the comments below. And if you have not yet watched this movie, it’s a must.

We’ll come up with our next architectural review of a movie soon. Till then, stay tuned and keep reading more interesting articles and stories on Surfaces Reporter.

Source:, architectural digest, dezeen

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