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Steampunk Architecture

Discussion in 'Research' started by Jdailey1991, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

    Whenever one thinks "steampunk", anyone with a desire to turn steampunk into an actual historical event can Google up "Victorian era" and study the architecture from there. But in a subgenre as fictional and as expansive as steampunk, it's not that simple, is it?

    Another problem is that when one describes architecture, they usually bring up the purpose of that particular architectural style more than the physical shapes of those architectural characteristics. For example, one could describe Greek architecture "with an emphasis on symmetry".

    So the question is this: Physically, what are the most popular characteristics and features of steampunk architecture?
  2. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

    I think that Victorian architecture is a good place to start. Asymmetry seems to be a big part of it too. Personally, I also think of windmills, giant cogs, hanging lamps, and oddly shaped chimneys.
  3. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Victorian architecture is one place to start and seems to be a rather popular base for steampunk design.

    I'll admit to having very little experience with steampunk novels, almost none actually. But anime also features many steampunk tales, and I'm a huge fan of anime.

    Take a look at this google image search for "anime steampunk architecture" for some great ideas:

    Anime steampunk architecture - Google Search

    The one overriding characteristic seems to be "architecture gone wild—in a reach exceeding grasp sort of way." What I mean by that is something I'll put in philosophical terms. Think of a world in which the inhabitants' burgeoning technological cleverness beguiles them into believing they can do anything, build anything. So they proceed to do so, only they aren't quite as clever as they feel themselves to be, so they end up with a hodgepodge of jerry-rigging.

    This way of approaching things actually did affect our own world once the Age of Enlightenment and newfangled "inventionism" (my crude word) led people to believe anything could happen. It's the reason for a story like Frankenstein: "What's this newfangled electricity, this growing understanding of real human anatomy mean? Maybe we can kick start a life if we just put the parts together in the right way and send electricity through it!" This still goes on to this day, actually.
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Ok, actually there are more search results with just "steampunk architecture" (eliminating the anime from the search.)

    steampunk architecture - Google Search

    I would add that, beyond the use of odd contraptions and asymmetrical shapes, there is often an abundance of artistic styles thrown together in a mishmash. Presumably this means that people accustomed to invent with creativity also take pleasure in following their own aesthetic muses.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I would suggest adding "Gothic with a metallic flavour" to the list of steampunk architecture.

    Cheers, Greg.
  6. troynos

    troynos Minstrel

    First you need to figure out what makes something "steampunk" an then can apply that filter to any architectural style that you want.
  7. Victorian architecture+mechanical, metallic, gears, pipes, that sort of thing.
  8. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    Some sort of gothic art nouveau, is what comes to mind first I guess. But that's 'cause I'm weird. But yeah, Victorian-ness, gears, pipes and all that, instantly scream steampunk for most.

    Troynos makes a very good point too though! Not necessarily the architecture itself makes it steampunk but how the aesthetics and ideology are utilized. So you could choose a more middle eastern style and go from there and it would still be more than steampunk enough.

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016

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