Something you should keep in mind when you start designing a city within your world is the architecture of the buildings. Dropping in a random look of buildings can be ok, but they must have some sort of uniform design that makes them fit together. Sure, we all want to avoid cookie cutter neighborhoods, but we also have to be mindful that the neighborhood has to look like it belongs together.
One of the first things I did when I started designing Johnny’s village was to sketch out various types of houses. I figured if I made them all look different, it would give the village some variation. Then when I put the sketches next to each other, I realized I had a mess. Nothing made sense. One building was well crafted in stone. Another was building completely out of wood. Then I stepped outside in my own neighborhood, and realized that while all the houses look different, the basic architecture was the same.
I’ve learned a bit of things from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend over the last few years. They’re both architects, and like to point out buildings and structures they find “cool” or unique. They also point out that certain elements are needed to fit things together.
This is where I realized that I needed a base design for all the buildings in Johnny’s village. Being a smaller, but newer village, I decided to go with stone structures. I then sketched out a basic building with key attributes that would be unique across the village.
I decided that the roofs should be made of 1’x1′ ceramic like blocks, forged from the clay that is plentiful the ground around the village. These 1’x1′ blocks then laid out, and the seams are sealed with a tar-like material that hardens, and matches the reddish clay colored ceramic blocks.
I then decided on a design for the windows. Since this is a small village, and the village does not have a glass forger, the windows will be open, with wooden shutters that can be closed, opening outwards. The shutters have a lock on them as well. There is also a small sill where residents can place things.
After that I decided on a basic door design. Doors are simple things if you think about it. But I wanted a common material. Again, I went for wood, with a small shutter/window system at the top of each one. I found it important for the colors to match the windows as well. Both being a light brown.
Finally, I wanted to find a unique style for the wall structure of the buildings. Stone was the decision, but would the stones be round, and then cemented together, or would the wall be a sold stone wall? I decided to mix this up a bit.
The foundation of each building will be constructed with rounded stones, and cemented together. The walls themselves will look more like textured cement. Basically, what they do when constructing them, is assemble the wall with any large stones they can. If they need to, they split them in half, and pack them in cement best they can. After that, they cement over them, and the texture comes naturally when they smooth it. The stone is then enclosed, and used just to reinforce and construct the wall, while giving the wall a bit of character and style.
I was then able to start sketching out basic buildings. They all looked unique, and are decorated in their own way, but they have a certain type of architecture about them. Their roofs are all molded the same, even though they are shaped in different patterns. Some buildings have chimneys, some don’t, that part didn’t matter, as long as the chimney was of stone design.
Keep basic architecture in mind when building your cities. Don’t try to mash a bunch of designs together without having some kind of unique pieces to tie them together. Avoid the cookie cutter syndrome after you have your basic elements. You’ll soon be building fabulous cities.
Dan Joseph is a Software Engineer/Architect. You can follow him on twitter @iamdanjoseph. If you wish to contact him, please click the contact page, and fill out the form.