This Photographer Spotlights the Urban Actors You’ve Been Overlooking

If all the world’s a stage, it’s in the bustling cities where much of the narrative flashpoints take place. But it’d be simplistic to put this down just to the higher population density; for photographer Sebastian Weiss it’s the buildings themselves that are important players too. This fascinating idea has spurred his continuing series Dramatis Personae, a crisp photographic study of some of Sebastian’s favourite urban architectural characters. Check out the images from the first two installments here.

Choux de Créteil

Location: Créteil, France

Architect: Gérard Grandval

The Hamburg-based creative works full-time as an architectural photographer, and is a long-term photo columnist for AD Architectural Digest Germany. As is fitting for such a cerebral artist’s work, his shots tend to be the result of scrupulous planning and research. But he welcomes chance encounters with buildings, too. Mankind has built an eclectic cast of structures during our time on earth, and – like people – you’ve got to keep an open mind. It’s not the most famous buildings, but rather the most dramatic or arresting architectural ‘personalities’ that catch his eye.
La cité Curial-Cambrai

Location: Paris, France

Architect: André Coquet

THE PLUS: What is it about concrete architecture that appeals to you?
Sebastian Weiss:
I search for the interaction of shapes and materials, and I intend to document a building’s syntax. My aim is to abstract urban shapes and carve out their forms and structures. I intend to liberate buildings from their spatial context and known surroundings.  

Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris

Location: Paris, France

Architect: Jean Nouvel

TP: What do you look for in a publicly performing building for the Dramatis Personae series?
The city is like the “theatre of life”, and the “dramatis personae” metaphor derives from this idea – the cast of main architectural protagonists on the stage of the city, which in turn provide us with an appropriate space for our daily performances.
TP: Which building character from this second series do you think you would get on best with, and why?
Probably the Choux de Créteil, I am fascinated by its organic shapes, which also remind me of a plant or a tree. I admire the powerful vibes and soft lines. To shoot this building was a highlight.
Stade Jean-Bouin

Location: Paris, France

Architects: Rudy Ricciotti

TP: Do you have a dream building you’d most like to ‘meet’ next?
I cannot name one dream building, but I would love to shoot architecture from e.g. Oscar Niemeyer or J. Mayer H.

TP: We assume you’re a city guy more than a country-lover, then…
You assumed right. I just love the cultural diversity of cities in many respects – the architecture, arts, events, people. For me this urban surrounding is very inspiring.

ZAC du Coteau

Location: Arcueil, France

Architects: ECDM Architectes

Le Centre National d’Entraînement

Location: Paris, France

Architects: unknown to me

Tours Aillaud

Location: Nanterre, France

Architects: Émile Aillaud

Grande Arche

Location: Paris, France

Architects: Otto von Spreckelsen and Paul Andreu


Centre des nouvelles industries et technologies

Location: Paris, France

Architects: Robert Edouard Camelot, Jean de Mailly and Bernard Zehrfuss


Location: Paris, France

Architect: VIB Architecture

Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris

Location: Paris, France

Architect: Jean Nouvel

La cité Curial-Cambrai

Location: Paris, France

Architect: André Coquet

Casa da Música

Location: Porto, Portugal

Architects: OMA (Rem Koolhaas & Ellen Van Loon)

Parking Garage of the Leipzig Zoo

Location: Leipzig, Germany

Architects: HPP Architects

Danfoss Universe

Location: Nordborg, Denmark

Architects: J. Mayer H. Architects


Location: Hamburg, Germany

Architects: Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron

Palacio de Justica de Gouveia

Location: Gouveia, Portugal

Architect: Barbosa & Guimaraes Architects

Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, ETSI

Location: Valencia, Spain

Architect: Corell Monfort Palacio Arquitectos

Gare de Saint-Exupéry TGV

Location: Lyon, France

Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Living Foz

Location: Porto, Portugal

Architects: dEMM Arquitectura

Centre Pompidou-Metz

Location: Metz, France

Architects: Shigeru Ban Architects

Municipal swimming pool

Location: Espinho, Portugal

Architect: unknown to me

Euler Hermes Building

Location: Hamburg, Germany

Architect: Titus Felixmüller


Location: Berlin, Germany

Architects: Thomas Müller Ivan Reimann Architekten

Helsinki Olympic Stadium

Location: Helsinki, Finland

Architect: Yrjö Lindegren, Toivo Jäntti