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View Full Version : Architectural and cosmetic design : any bizarre and disturbing suggestions?



Marian Perera
09-06-2008, 01:22 PM
This is the setting in my WIP :

An inland sea (not very large, more of a lake) is held in a great bowl of rock. Three hundred years ago, a magical barrier was raised to keep people away from the Sea Ė thereís perhaps a twenty-mile distance between the barrier and the Sea itself.

Prior to that, people worshipped the Sea, lived near it and constructed buildings. What I need are ideas for these buildings, the general layout of the city and so on, and Iíd like these to be unusual and distinctive. I had a previous story set in a desert land where the buildings had windscoops; a detail like that would be great, but Iím also hoping for bizarre and creepy suggestions. All I have at the moment is a set of stone steps called the Devilís Stair, which is cut into the side of the crater that holds the Sea and which goes down into its depths.

So don't hold back. Anything you come up with might help. Thanks in advance. :)

Mumut
09-06-2008, 02:43 PM
All I have at the moment is a set of stone steps called the Devilís Stair, which is cut into the side of the crater that holds the Sea and which goes down into its depths.

Could this be like a toilet systern. Follow the steps down, around the bend then you're in a long cave that ends up as a fissure in the back of a cave at the edge of the sea?

alleycat
09-06-2008, 03:42 PM
Some sort of tower near the sea that was previously used for religious ceremonies. Only from the top of the tower can all of the sea can be seen (The Face of the God) and only priest were allowed that privilege. Perhaps now the tower is crumbling but is still avoided by the people of the city because of the stories told of strange and mysterious things that have occurred in the tower.

Perhaps some of the buildings are carved into the cliffs surrounding the sea that are similar to those Anasazi. Also similar to those of the Anasazi, public "wells" were constructed to hold the "sacred waters".

You didn't really say what kind of climate or vegetation the area has. I'm assuming it might be somewhat in between a desert and woodland (something like the foothills of a mountainous area); that is, limited rainfall and scruffy vegetation. In that case the buildings would probably either be made of something like adobe or stone. I would think about using circular buildings with domed roofs of flat stones which are similar to those that are still used in certain parts of the world.

Linda Adams
09-06-2008, 03:43 PM
Once of the things I did for some of my architecture is look at existing architecture and base it on that. So Googie (http://www.spaceagecity.com/googie/)(not Google) might be a place to start, since it was very Los Angeles and at times very weird. Seattle's Space Needle and the LAX control tower are both well-recognized examples of it.

Also worth a look if you have them in your library, especially since you mentioned the Devil's Stair, is the Weird series. These are called Weird California, Weird Massachusetts, etc. All of these books feature a section on unusual archecture. This is one that was posted with the picture that called House of Curves (http://books.google.com/books?id=L0iv57e2mXEC&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=house+of+curves,+maryland&source=web&ots=vjMZPonE8Z&sig=95u7tSwwvTmHtue12cHPzGLrJRg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA105,M1) in Weird Maryland.

alleycat
09-06-2008, 04:10 PM
How about some sort of stone wharf where in ancient times human sacrifices were thrown into the sea to appease the god. "From the sea thou came, and to the sea thou shall return . . . " (something like that).

The reflection of the full moon in the sea could have been a sign to the people (the wedding of the moon god and the sea god). They built something like Stonehenge to honor the sea and moon on those occasions.

There could be an island in the island that is said to be the hand of the good. No ones dares go there.

I assume the people fish in the sea. If so, then you could have some sort of odd boats that the people use. Perhaps animals skins stretched over a light wood frame with an odd little sail.

How about some sort of "Roman bath" that is used by the people. They purify themselves in the steam room and then quench themselves in the waters of the sea that is piped in.

Marian Perera
09-06-2008, 04:18 PM
I came up with something else on the subway to work today - there are three Seatowers which are used for communication over long distances (using a system of huge mirrors to reflect light), and they have viewing platforms with primitive telescopes bolted to them. The platforms are terraces which extend over the Sea. It's very disconcerting to look down over the rusty rail and see the Sea stirring restlessly beneath, especially since the supports for the viewing platforms are equally rusty, spindly and look as though they're about to give way at any moment.

The Sea itself is translucent to opaque (like mercury at its deepest point) and does not support life (i.e. no fish in it). The people who used to live there have long since disappeared, so it's kind of a ghost town. It's speculated that the Sea might have consumed them somehow. The main characters have to open the wall after three hundred years and cross the Seaground, so I like the idea of a a boat. They can consider using one until they take their first look at the Sea and maybe toss a piece of wood on it, only to see the wood sink without a trace.

MadScientistMatt
09-06-2008, 04:21 PM
Ponded roofs: Have the roof built water-tight and able to hold a shallow layer of water on top. It's tricky to build right with inexpensive materials in a normal fantasy world but can help insulate a house. You'd need a way to drain it in the winter unless temperatures stay above freezing.

Sarpedon
09-07-2008, 06:17 PM
I would look closely at some of the stranger architects; People like Gaudi. He designed a building (the Casa Batlo) to resemble bones, and its roof looks like a dragon. All of his buildings are organic and not quite right looking. You might also look at the italian architects of the mannerist period; that time when they started deconstructing classical forms.

Hawaiians had a very sea-oriented religion as well. Their temples were square enclosures that overlooked the sea, but were not particularly menacing architecturally. One thing they did have that was menacing were tanks which held Great White sharks, into which they would toss people as a form of human sacrifice.

You might also want to look at Ruskin's writings about the 'sublime' in architecture. oddly enough, I wasn't able to find his famous drawings of it on the web.

If you've got big, scary looking towers, you might look at the works of the futurists, which was a movement in the early part of the twentieth century, mostly in Italy.

A lot of the early modernists were strongly influenced by steamships, and made buildings to look like them (kinda)

Again, I'm having trouble finding the most iconic examples on the web, you might have better luck at your local library.

Marian Perera
09-07-2008, 08:28 PM
I would look closely at some of the stranger architects; People like Gaudi. He designed a building (the Casa Batlo) to resemble bones, and its roof looks like a dragon.

I thought of buildings designed like skeletons or even stylized representations of skulls, which would have been cool, but China Mieville already has something like that in Perdido Street Station (Bonetown, which has sprung up around the ribs of a giant creature's skeleton). On the other hand, it would be neat if people used the shells of giant sea creatures as homes. I must find a cross-section diagram of a shell to see if that would work.


All of his buildings are organic and not quite right looking.

Sounds just like what I had in mind. I have to go to the library tomorrow; I'll see if there's anything in the architecture section.


One thing they did have that was menacing were tanks which held Great White sharks, into which they would toss people as a form of human sacrifice.

They had tanks with Great Whites in them? Must have been huge tanks! Also, I thought it was really difficult to keep those sharks in captivity?

Thanks very much for all the feedback, people. It's helping me get a great picture of the place.

Marian Perera
09-07-2008, 08:33 PM
This is one that was posted with the picture that called House of Curves (http://books.google.com/books?id=L0iv57e2mXEC&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=house+of+curves,+maryland&source=web&ots=vjMZPonE8Z&sig=95u7tSwwvTmHtue12cHPzGLrJRg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA105,M1) in Weird Maryland.

Thanks for that link, Linda. Pictures are inspiring! I browsed it and came up with an idea for disturbing-looking house fronts : crude depictions of faces, with arched doors that look like gaping mouths, and two round windows above for eyes.

I like the winged stone gargoyle with the snow between its wings as well.

MadScientistMatt
09-07-2008, 10:19 PM
I thought of buildings designed like skeletons or even stylized representations of skulls, which would have been cool, but China Mieville already has something like that in Perdido Street Station (Bonetown, which has sprung up around the ribs of a giant creature's skeleton). On the other hand, it would be neat if people used the shells of giant sea creatures as homes. I must find a cross-section diagram of a shell to see if that would work.

Depends on the shell. Clam and limpet shells are hollow inside, so if you had a big enough one you could live in it. You'd have to build the rooms - if you wanted them, of course. Snail shells tend to be just one big spiral. Here's an X-ray of one sea creature with an interesting cross section, a chambered nautilus.

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/myee/architecture/Nautilus%20Shell%202.gif

I'd probably use something like three foot wide clam shells as a sort of roofing material.

Marian Perera
09-07-2008, 11:23 PM
Thanks for the picture, Matt!


I'd probably use something like three foot wide clam shells as a sort of roofing material.

That would also work to collect rain, both for insulation, as you mentioned, and simply as a source of drinking water, given that the Sea would probably do something unexpected to anyone who came near it.

Sarpedon
09-08-2008, 05:01 PM
According to what I read (and I don't know if its true or not), the sharks would be lured into the tanks for the ceremony, not necessarily kept in captivity.

Basically, they'd give a guy an obsidion knife (more like an arrowhead) and chuck him in. Generally, the shark defeated the man. If, however, the man defeats the shark, he becomes some sort of hero or something.

Keyan
09-10-2008, 05:01 PM
Sounds just like what I had in mind. I have to go to the library tomorrow; I'll see if there's anything in the architecture section.


Try Google images on Gaudi, and on Casa Batlo. All his work is fantastical.

dirtsider
09-10-2008, 05:16 PM
The Weird series actually started from the Weird New Jersey magazine. You might try checking out the magazine as well if you're looking at the books. They do have a website. Also try www.stuofdoom.com. That has some great pictures of abandoned sites as well as a few strange buildings.