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Author Topic: Steampunk Architecture  (Read 11913 times)
Young Love
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« on: November 05, 2009, 10:29:59 am »

Hey everybody. I'm currently designing several cities in a tabletop game setting. I was just wondering if anybody could give me information on typically steampunk architecture. From what I can gather, it's mostly Victorian era but are there any characteristics that set it apart from neo-victorianism?

Thanks a lot for any forth coming help!!
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James Harrison
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 10:39:36 am »

To my mind, it's based upon machinery or buildings for the housing of machinery.  You might want to look at such things as the interiors of Victorian pump houses (wonderful relationship between building fabric and the machinery contained therein- the platforms and the like of the machines are actually built into the structure and wonderfully decorated) and the work of architects such as Viollet le Duc, who took traditional building forms (like Cathedrals) and reimagined them using 19th Century materials like cast iron. 

Also, it comes to mind that there wee a multitude of architectural styles throughout the era- starting with neo-Classical, going via neo-Gothic to the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Queen Anne Revival and the very early beginnings of the Modernist/Futurist movements.  You could take elements of the latter two and blend them into elements of one of the earlier styles, which would give the retro-futurist vibes you'd want. 

A couple of books you could find would be Thames & Hudsons Art World book on Victorian Architecture and The History of western Architecture by David Watkin.  I'll sort out a few more and their details just as soon as I get back to my library in a few days...

Hope this helps,

James (an architectural assistant/student)
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2009, 12:36:22 am »

I would reccommend a browse through the pages of the European Route of Industrial Heritage: http://www.erih.net/index.php

There are some amazing places. I particularly like the rust in: http://www.erih.net/regional-routes/germany/saar-lor-lux.html
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patron_vectras
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2009, 01:51:02 pm »

As James said.
Pump-houses was the first thing that came to my mind as well.

Note the exceptions such as
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Public_Library
The McKim building being built in 1895 in the Beux-Arts style
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2009, 05:30:23 pm »

Here is some interesting architecture that I found that has that retro-industrial look.  Even labeled as steampunk.

http://www.likecool.com/Home/Design/Steampunk%20Architecture/Steampunk-Architecture.jpg

http://weburbanist.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/David-Trautrimas-steampunk-buildings.jpg

I always thought that the architecture in the movie Brazil had a steampunk feel.  Its very neo-gothic/industrial calamity.
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patron_vectras
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2009, 09:38:04 pm »



I remember seeing those on Weburbanist. I don't think most of them look very steampunk at all. some maybe just junk, others dieselpunk.
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2009, 06:41:58 am »

I second the Brazil reference whole-heartedly.

for those who haven't seen it, it is well worth your time. I have a personal attachment and affection for the heater engineers in this film.
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Quinn
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2009, 08:01:39 am »

This is a MARVELLOUS thread! I LOVE architecture and what great references!
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popuptoaster
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2009, 07:07:59 pm »

Don't forget the great iron and glass buildings like the palm house at kew gardens and the great exihbition hall, only possible at the time becuase of the new iron and laminated glass technologies.


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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2009, 11:00:02 pm »

Perhaps a mite too obvious, but you'll be wanting to check out Guimard, Victor Horta and the assembled Art Nouveau crew.
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weirdmeister
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2010, 09:20:34 pm »

if its not too late...2 pics from pistoia,italy



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Mr. Boltneck
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2010, 02:02:15 am »

The Eiffel Tower is another good one, along with the Art-Nouveau Metro entrances.
You might also want to look up some of the "model" factories of the late Nineteenth Century. Ideals of social reform and "uplift" led to commercial buildings which were supposed to get away from the "dark satanic mills" and produce happier, more enlightened, and more moral workers, complete with improving literature for breaks and such. Sort of the zaibatsu approach, sixty years early.
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2010, 03:37:54 am »

The Crystal Palace: quite possible the most steampunk building to ever actually exist. Made of glass and steel, and filled with all the Wonders of the Victorian Age ("The Great Exhibition"), the living room around me agrees it is the singular most steampunk moment of history (though of course you may disagree).

The Brdbury Building is also a little steampunk, though funnily enough has much of Blade Runner is filmed in it, which isn't exactly a steampunk film.
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2010, 06:39:08 am »

The Crystal Palace: quite possible the most steampunk building to ever actually exist. Made of glass and steel, and filled with all the Wonders of the Victorian Age ("The Great Exhibition"), the living room around me agrees it is the singular most steampunk moment of history (though of course you may disagree).

Speaking of big fancy glass buildings, there is a rather nice one form the same era in a large park where I lived when I was very young;
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2010, 08:20:23 am »

if its not too late...2 pics from pistoia,italy






That's exactly what's in my minds eye in regards to steampunk architecture.

I'm guessing steampunk would be art nouveau, while dieselpunk would be art deco.
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2010, 08:47:39 am »

Victor Horta's work while definitivly art nouveau is somewhat in keeping with a steamy venue.

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drewboy
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2010, 11:00:29 am »

I posted these in the 2d art thread, but if you haven't been there, these are how I imagine sp architecture ...





The second one is the Eiffel Tower ...

Cheers,

D.
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2010, 01:03:14 pm »

I would also agree with people's previous comments about Art Nouveu, I feel the style is one of the pillars in many steampunk worlds, you may also wish to look at the graphical design of the movement, particularly their posters (which as you can tell from my Profile Picture I have a certain love of. Infact replica of this poster adorns my wall.) which you can still get quite cheap and might be nice to put up around the table as a prop.

As well as Art Nouveu there is also the Gothic Revival which represents a certain variant mindset. With advanced construction techniques these buildings will be huge cavernous and ominous perfect for moments calling for a darker atmosphere which could arguibly be opposed to the gleaming pillars of Neoclassical architecture.

Also with the rapid advance of Science!, foreign colonies and tale's of Gentleman Adventurer's Incredible Expeditions of Daring Do Art Deco might develop early which drew alot of it's inspiration from ancient civilisations such as Ancient Egypt, Africa, Babylon and Ancient Mexico. A more succesfull British Raj might bring an interest with Indo-Saracenic Revival in Britain and if Atlantis has been descovered it is likely to have an impact, perhaps developing into a Neo-Atlantian or Anglo-Atlantian Revival especially if the fable Orichalum was desovered to have characteristics suitable for construction or decoration. On the other hand many may look back to the Renaissance Masters and may persue a Revival of Renaissance Architecture to inspire a new generation of masters.

In more utalitarian worlds architecture is likely to be simple redbrick building steadily getting higher as the technology becomes avaliable to be more efficient with space, in grittier settings these could grow into steampunk sprawls that rival those found in Cyberpunk. An image I am particularly inspired by partly due to the history of my hometown Nottingham which once apparantly had the worst slums in the empire outside india. There were also of course the caves like in many cities throughout the UK which were used for habitation throughout the age, in some places probably up until WW2 when they would be used as shelters.

As with the mention of Orichalum any "anachronstic" materials could create divergences in architectual development. If H.G. Well's Cavorite existed and was avaliable in sufficient quantities impossibly high skyscrapers would be possible - perhaps a steampunk Orbital Elevator? or Tiered Cities with smog ridden decaying sprawls built over by modern cities constructed on chained cavorite disks? - or even mobile floating cities!
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2010, 03:02:51 pm »

You might find some Steampunk inspiration in this Photo Tour at the City Museum of St Louis.

Not all retro-Victorian/Edwardian, but some gorgeous shapes and truly whimsical features.
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James Harrison
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« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2010, 08:29:56 pm »

If anyone's in the area, Birmingham Central Library is hosting a small exhibition of photographs of Victorian/Edwardian buildings saved or lost over the course of the 50-year existence of the Victorian Society. 

It is well worth a look for those interested in 19th Century architecture- I was able to go and see it today whilst doing research in the Library.   
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Dr von Zarkov
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2010, 11:56:30 pm »

One may well fancy the Romanesque Revival style, particularly in Richardson's vaulted arches. Some of these elements are found in old breweries in the USA. Massive red-brick structures, smokestacks, and elevated walk-ways characterise the malt houses.

Do take notice of the images in this old thread.
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Tajhan
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« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2010, 03:38:18 am »

Watson Fothergill's unusual mix of styles would probably fit right in actually. I can't think of why I didn't think of him before.
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drewboy
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« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2010, 11:10:30 am »

Watson Fothergill's unusual mix of styles would probably fit right in actually. I can't think of why I didn't think of him before.


Excellent - an eclectic Gothic style and a great name to boot.
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