The most remarkable stories ever created are the ones that have left a deep impact on their readers. This impact comes in varying forms – the plot might be exceptional, and the narrative might be unique. But to bring about a multidimensional significance to a story, authors have to consider its visual perspective deeply. The visual perspective can be represented in a multitude of ways as it suits the medium of the story. It is fundamentally the background that props the plot up. In the case of written fiction, the background relies on the choice of descriptive words. On the other hand, in cases of graphic fiction (like manga, comics, movies, series, etc.), it is perceived via images. Either way, it sparks imagination in the audience’s mind and leaves a lasting impression of the story.

Architecture is a powerful tool in storytelling. It connects the past, present, and future to indicate a specific point in the timeline of a place and its culture. It points out the socio-economic and historical environment in which the story is set, enhancing it by providing context to the plot’s events. Architecture silently adds a multifaceted aspect to the narrative.

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Perspective About Time | Houston Ballet

As discussed above, the most fundamental information that architecture can offer in fiction is the timeline in which it is set. This can be seen in stories as ancient as Arabian Nights. Here the grand Islamic Architecture depicts the reign of the Caliphs in Asia during the sixth century. Another example that shows how architecture brings out perspectives of different times in stories can be seen in the two visual adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The movie Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr, is set at the end of the 19th century. The brick buildings and the iron railings of Houston Ballet Centre are symbolic of Victorian Architecture as prevalent in London during the time in which the story is set. However, the series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is set in modern-day London. This is quite evident from the contemporary high-rise structures like that can be seen in the episodes. Both of these adaptations present different perspectives of time in the same location. Hajime Isayama’s manga Shingeki no Kyojin uses architecture to represent the cycle of time similarly. Architecture in stories brings out the aspect of its locations’ evolution and progress with time.

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Perspective about Environment

One of the biggest changes in perspective that architecture in storytelling can offer is a change in the plot’s environment to bring out the feels better. For example, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, the story begins in a suburban street with rows of pretty two-storeyed houses and their respective neatly partitioned, well-maintained lawns. It exhibits normalcy and affluence. In stark contrast to Privet Drive’s openness stands Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, The Burrow, and Diagon Alley. 

All of these places are accessible only by magical people who live in secrecy; this is why the architectural styles of these locations appear dated as compared to Privet Drive. They have been untouched by urbanity and bear an air of mystery. Hogwarts, being the oldest institution of magic in the world, is architecturally Norman Romanesque and Medieval Gothic. This constant switching of contrasting perspectives in the Muggle (normal/non-magical) world and the Magical world appeals to the readers’ imagination and makes them feel relatable.

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Perspective on Emotions | Houston Ballet

The presence of architecture can also set the philosophical and metaphorical mood in the storyline. For example, in Inio Asano’s bildungsroman Manga Oyasumi Punpun, the story begins with the lighthearted childhood romance of two kids in a semi-urban area. The locality in which they live appears friendly and warm; apaatos and danchis with tatami-fitted living rooms are the general housing trends. But as more mature themes develop throughout the story, we find the same architectural spaces appear more congested and darker. This shift in mood suggests how architecture can be used as a metaphorical object to bring about a change in the psychological perspective of the storyline.

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Perspective on Culture

Architecture in Marvel movies, or in general, any superhero film, is primarily for impressing the audience with stunning visuals. It also acts as the theme for the superhero’s background and enriches his or her superpowers. The tall buildings of New York City – an amalgamation of Art Deco, Neoclassical, and Cast-Iron Architecture – harness Spiderman’s Spider-sense, making him swing through the city with his classic web sling. Thor’s Asgard is a mixture of Greek and Modern architecture. It represents the sophisticated “unworldly” outlook of a powerful intergalactic civilization. 

Black Panther’s Wakanda is inspired by Zaha Hadid’s sustainable futuristic architecture and the royalty of Buckingham Palace. But it also imbibes traditional African craftsmanship into their architecture. This brings out the patriotism instilled in the hearts of its citizens. Thanks to the inclusivity and diversity of cast and characters in superhero movies, we now experience various perspectives of different cultures worldwide. This promotes harmony and interest. It also influences professionals involved in various art fields to draw inspiration from these movies and incorporate the styles in their work.

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Conclusion | Houston Ballet

Just like stories change people’s perspective about various things in life, architecture has a similar influence too. It mirrors the environment people live in. Human beings are made up of the surroundings they are associated with. This is why creators of fiction delve into extensive research before designing their plot backgrounds and choosing their locations. Their stories come alive only when their backgrounds complement their characters and events. Architecture is thus integral in both fictional as well real lives. Either way, it enhances the well-being and aesthetics of the mind and the space.


An undergraduate student of architecture, Sanjana has always been fascinated by the artistic and the technological aspect of space and how it constructs our world. She is driven by the stories associated with it, its historical, literary, cultural and visual significance. Writing is how she satiates her love for it.