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RIBA in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Date posted: 01.08.2015

Inspired by the 1960s TV spy comedy series of the same name, The Man From U.N.C.L.E gets the big screen treatment with Guy Ritchie at the helm.

The action film looks set to be a slick hit with other has a roster of high calibre cast members including Alicia Vikander (Testament of Youth), Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) and Hugh Grant (Cloud Atas).

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) are agents for U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). They are tasked with bringing down a mysterious criminal syndicate whose aim is to cause global disruption and destruction.

Spying the perfect location

The distinctive architecture of RIBA, in particular the Jarvis tiered auditorium, made it the ideal setting for the production. Location Managers Sue Quinn and Dan Whitty were both grateful for the flexibility that RIBA afforded in preparation for the shoot.

Filming at the RIBA consisted of three days prep, one day shoot and two days strike.

"RIBA generally prefers that filming takes place during weekends but our prep crew were allowed full access during the week to dress and pre-light our set," says Quinn.

Whitty continues: "this prep time allowed us to turn RIBA's lecture theatre into a 1960's Russian KGB screening room where some crucial plot points in the movie are revealed."

Working with the location

Stephanie Ellrott, Head of Venues at RIBA says, "we were extremely excited to host Guy Ritchie's team onsite filming the remake of a 60s spy classic".  

Alongside the great and varied facilities available to photoshoots and film makers at RIBA venues, Ellrott says, "with stunning views across London all provide great backdrops and have been the subject of a number of movies over the years."

The location also provided the catering on the day of the shoot. This was presented within stylish Florence Hall and Whitty notes that "the food was great and the surroundings were truly beautiful."

Whitty and Quinn had a wholly positive filming experience, adding, "RIBA were fabulous to work with and really seemed to understand the demanding nature of filming on location." Of the location, they agree that RIBA is "one of the finest Art Deco buildings we have in London and it was a real privilege to have experienced working in such grand surroundings."

Mystery Guest

Rumours were rife with about a very special guest on set who turned out to be a sporting legend making his big screen debut. RIBA were honoured to host scenes none other than football's global superstar David Beckham!

Ellrott recalls: "we were informed that a mystery guest would also attend the filming, but when we saw David Beckham and his whole family coming through the revolving doors of RIBA Venues we were ecstatic".

 "The highlight of the shoot was seeing David Beckham enter the acting world with a small part in the scene," adds Whitty.

About the Location

RIBA is a Grade II listed stunning Art Deco building with a purpose-built tiered lecture hall and the design of RIBA Venues is a popular film and photoshoot location. The venue has provided great backdrops and has been the subject of a number of movies over the years.

Features include

  • Grand entrance lobby
  • Unique lifts
  • Stunning staircases
  • Grand art deco hall
  • Stylish library
  • Gallery space
  • Court room
  • Boardrooms
  • Three outdoor terraces with stunning views across London

The meeting rooms range in style from cinema to courtroom and the institute provides an architectural showcase of etched glass, wood and black marble. The grand Florence Hall has full length windows and beautiful carved wood and stonework. The balcony on the sixth floor provides stunning views of London. RIBA was designed by Grey Wornum and built in 1932-34. The front is of plain Portland stone.

Other productions to have filmed here include The Woman in Gold, Bright Young Things and BBC drama Waking the Dead

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