The future of Architecture has always revolved around the ideas of flying cars and raging skyscrapers, but with the recent pandemic, most of the sci-fi dystopia seems more real than ever which puts us to think what if there’s no denying to this end of the world and thus changing the whole idea of the future of architecture which would be solely for survival. We have often read it in the dystopian books, seen it in sci-fi movies or cyberpunk series but to experience the story it can only be achieved through the virtual reality of the gaming industry. With many video games that have touched this topic of post-apocalyptic Architecture, we can only wonder if that is what the future holds.

Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet1
©Sony Computer Entertainment

In video games, apart from the storyline there has been increased variation in the visual reality of the environment and buildings and now play a significant role in the narration. The concept has been raised to such a level that a whole city is developed to suit the gameplay and thus making games an amazing experience. Video games are compelling theatre where you are the protagonist making it a collaborative expression between the player and the narrative almost like an avant-garde theatre. Thus, video games are an exceptional way to explore the ideas of Architecture that seem far off. There have been many such amazing games in the past years that challenge the bounds of Architecture in it.

The visuals of the games communicate with the architecture and furniture as they express everything that can’t be verbally expressed by the characters. Some passages that are solely created to introduce the mood and the players are left conclude from such places instead of being spoon-fed throughout the story. There’s something intriguingly beautiful about the aesthetic of decay and destruction mixed with nature. Perhaps seeing the urban jungle swallowed up by nature allows us to get over our hyper-reliance on technology. It is almost existential that we indulge ourselves to view the world coming to an end and yet it almost comforts us that if it did, we will survive so we explore the same through whatever means.

The Last of Us by Naughty Dog is one such game that has been awarded as the game of the decade packed with adventures across the Post-apocalyptic USA, it has almost created a world so surreal and yet keeps a reference to our physical world with its detailed building layouts and environment. The game excels at a ‘picturesque’ beauty in the tradition of art and architecture. The picturesque can be termed to its representation that emphasizes the roughness and irregularity with decaying edifices.

Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet2
©Sony Computer Entertainment
Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet3
©Sony Computer Entertainment

In post-apocalyptic fiction, cities are both a blessing and a curse-filled with the remnants of what once was and everything wrecked and falling apart and yet nailed together again. Cities are filled with the wreckage of supermarkets filled with food sources and potential weapons and without constant maintenance, modern cities decay much more quickly. Hence the environment is often rendered with cobwebs, abandonment, rusty surfaces, and vegetation penetration through concrete. Crumbling facades of sky-scrapers, pillars, and tunnels constantly collapsing, dark subways and such detail enhances the navigation of the game. There is a lushness to the ruins and through the gameplay, we get the chance to explore the dangers and the curiosity that urban decay presents before us.

Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet4
©Sony Computer Entertainment
Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet5
©Sony Computer Entertainment

With graphic engines becoming more powerful and capable, the gaming industry has explored many games in this field. Horizon: Zero Dawn is another post-post-apocalyptic game that includes barren wastelands and mostly where nature has taken over and hence the graphics seen is extremely green and more plant lifelike. Lakes and ponds created around building base or collapsed roads supporting lilies are more such details of the concept.

Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet6
Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet7

Metro 2033, Fallout: New Vegas, Days Gone, and Mad Max,etc. are many other games that touch the beauty of post-apocalyptic architecture. There have been many other instances where one has developed the scene of the post-apocalyptic state of famous structures. An artist Joseph Gandy designed many paintings, all in the concept where he took contemporary buildings and showed them destroyed in some distant afterlife-future. But regardless the idea to insert oneself in the story and experience such a detailed visual world has been one such experiment where Architecture has to broaden its depth and to indulge in this genre of Architecture seems important now more than ever.

Post Apocalyptic Architecture: through the lens of video games - Sheet8
The Bank of England depicted as a ruin by Soane’s renderer Joseph Gandy, 1830 ©

Recently, many visual artists have tried to create such pieces with the world shown from the aspect of post-apocalypse. These are a reminder that one day, eventually and for whatever reason, this will happen and we must explore the same.


Ashmita Gupta is an Architecture student who believes art is the medicine of life. A book sniffer and an indie music addict, she is often driven with curiosity and hence finds her thrill in art and literature.