Take a Look Inside the Architecture of Cinema’s Most Infamous Villain Lairs

Lair, Movie Villain Hideaways by Chad Oppenheim

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What do films like Dr. StrangeloveThe Spy Who Loved MeNorth by Northwest, and Blade Runner 2049 all have in common? Memorable villains. From Karl Stromberg to Phillip Vandamm, one thing all these villains have in common is an incredible hideaway to devise all their evil plans. Not only are these lairs a place to plot and scheme, but they are also fascinating architectural expressions of evil. Now, thanks to the book Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, film and architecture buffs alike can appreciate the nuances of these designs.

Created by architect Chad Oppenheim and editor Andrea Gollin, the book is filled with critical texts that attempt to understand why it is that bad guys live in such incredible houses, as well as interviews with director and producer Michael Mann and iconic James Bond production designer Ken Adam. For Oppenheim, who has been fascinated by the lairs of villains since he watched The Man with the Golden Gun as a child, the selection of what to include was very personal.

“The lairs had to be aspirational, which for me meant a place I would want to inhabit,” he writes in the book's introduction. “They had to be inspiring from an architectural standpoint, which for me meant they should be predominantly modern architecture, with very few exceptions. They also had to be the lairs of truly villainous movie villains, not just your average bad guy.”

What we're left with are incredible examples of fantasy architecture that aren't just homes, but expressions of character. The book not only breaks down each villain and their home, but also gives the inside stories on how they were created. Whether building detailed scale models or finding exotic locales to stand in for fictional islands, Lair gives incredible insight into the world of filmmaking. It also clearly demonstrates the incredible impact of production design on popular culture and how these cinematic choices spill over into the real world as they inspire generations of architects.

Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains is now available online.

Lair looks at some of the most memorable movie villain architecture in cinema's history.


Dr. Strangelove's War Room from Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove War Room


Phillip Vandamm's Vandamm House from North by Northwest

Vandamm House in North by Northwest


Karl Stromberg's Atlantis from The Spy Who Loved Me

Lair, Movie Villain Hideaways by Chad Oppenheim


Niander Wallace's Wallace Corporation Headquarters from Blade Runner 2049

Lair, Movie Villain Hideaways by Chad Oppenheim


Arjen Rudd's South African Consulate from Lethal Weapon 2

Homes of Movie Villains


Lex Luthor's Grand Central Terminal from Superman

Superman Grand Central Terminal Illustration


Diabolik's Cavern Hideout from Danger: Diabolik

Lair, Movie Villain Hideaways by Chad Oppenheim


Francisco Scaramanga's Scaramanga Island from The Man with the Golden Gun

The Man with the Golden Gun Architecture


Chad Oppenheim: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Tra Publishing.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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