One of the most overlooked parts of a movie is the setting and the architecture of the surroundings. Although the environment in which the film is filmed acts as a character, the audience is unaware of the hard work behind it. Cinematic designing has an impact on sci-fi movies like inception, black panther than any other genre. Black Panther is a 2018 film based on Blank panther from marvel comics that talks about Wakanda. The story revolves around prince T’challa, who becomes the heir to the throne after his father’s death. To the outside world, Wakanda is an agricultural nation but is the source of Vibranium, a strong metal on earth. What truly lies in the country and how T’challa leads his tribe into a new beginning after facing challenges is the movie.

Research

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Hannah Beachler_©https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/

Hannah Beachler, the production designer of Black Panther, with her team packed her bags and set out on a trip to find inspiration for her design. She traveled to Africa, South Korea, and Uganda researching both people and architecture. Hannah had a responsibility to create a whole new world, Wakanda. She started off studying people from different tribes like Suri and Masai and the culture of the Congolese fishermen. She analyzed topography, mining, metallurgy, and nature around the places she traveled. With all the research, Hannah created the Wakanda bible containing every detail about the people and architecture.

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Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul (2013)_©https://www.zaha-hadid.com/

One of the biggest inspirations of the Black Panther sets was Zaha Hadid. Hannah was deeply impressed by two of her buildings, the DDP building in Seoul and Wangjing SOHO in Beijing. According to her, the buildings were curved and futuristic, yet they had references to natural elements. Hannah used both constructed structures and nature to influence her designs.

Her designs were influenced by anthills and mountains, among others. The comics of the movie written by Stanley were the initial push for architecture.

It tries to pay homage to people who worked hard to bring the character to life. Throughout the comics, shapes and colors were incorporated into Wakanda’s capital, Golden City.

Concept

The leading concept behind the design was to combine a futuristic world with traditional African culture. Among the most crucial principles of Black Panther is Afrofuturism, a cultural movement that fuses African cultures with technology.  The architecture comprised several circles and curves. They were considered relaxing and calming and represented the continual journey, the cycle of birth, life, and death. The buildings also embraced traditional African architectural styles. The place where Wakanda was situated also played a prominent role in the aesthetics of the design.

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Black Panther, location view-Wakanda_©https://time.com/

On the first look at Wakanda in the movie, we can observe a set of buildings situated around a waterbody. The buildings come in all sizes and shapes. It is a compilation of tall, mid-rise, and small-rise buildings, unlike other futuristic movies, that include more high-rise glass façade structures. The different sizes of buildings show the hierarchy followed in the ancient culture of the place.

Anthills inspired the skyscrapers, they were enormous and towering, and Hannah thought she could bring structures out of them that blended and worked in the landscape. The environment of the surroundings has an organic architectural expression describing people and their culture.

The buildings are indigenous and have features of African architectural style like rondavel huts and conical thatched roofs even in skyscrapers. They have used earthy tones, and they scream of natural materials. There is a use of browns and greens representing ground, soil, and nature. It is not gleaming and shiny, unlike other sci-fi cities. The designed set of Black Panther has several spaces with deep meaning that included warrior falls, hall of kings, record room, the palace of T’challa, the Great mound, commercial streets, the region of the Jabari tribe, and the surroundings that included the rondavels. From the small rondavels to the big palace, each element was well thought and well-executed.

Design

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Scene from the movie- Black Panther_©https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/

Warriors Falls refers to the mountainous waterfall area where Tchalla, his family, and the heads of all tribes gather to crown black panther, the king.  It took inspiration from the Oribi Gorge, the mountain range. Hannah intended it to look aesthetic with the mixture of black and golden colors, bringing out royalty to the surroundings. The Great mound is Shuri’s lab, TChalla’s sister. In an interview, Hannah revealed that she was particularly proud of the outcome of this space. It is the most technologically advanced part of the country. It was a challenging task to incorporate the building into the indigenous nature of Wakanda.

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Scene from the movie- Black Panther_©https://in.pinterest.com/

Record hall was another well-thought structure of the set. It is a high-rise building situated near to the palace. The void left by the lack of historical records led Hannah to create a record hall to preserve Wakanda and Black Panther.  Wakanda is highly contrasting in terms of transportation. While the highly advanced railway line transporting maglev trains runs on the top, the streets below are indigenous. The Woofer concept in the Netherlands inspired the streets, where people walk around commercial streets with minimal vehicles.

Palace Of Black Panther

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Scene from the movie- Black Panther_©https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/

The Palace of Black Panther was one of the crucial parts of the design as it determined the size and scale of the rest of the buildings. In addition to being inspired by Buckingham Palace, its dimensions are also considered ideal for this palace. They range from 359′ to 486′. It has a play of textures, materials, and colors. On a carpeted surface, the throne sits in the center of the glass flooring. The walls were high with hints of metal to bring out the importance of the space.

Jabari tribe

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Scene from the movie- Black Panther_©https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/

The region of the Jabari tribe is a snowy mountainous space with a room dedicated to the throne for the head of the tribe. The throne sits on a wooden flooring surrounded by wooden logs. A whopping 300 birch logs are suspended from a hemp rope from the top all around. The wooden logs were movable up and down with the help of the string. Birch in cold regions represented ancient history and wisdom. The floor was a burnt wooden flooring inspired by the Japanese. The burnt color created a gradient that looked very aesthetic. The throne of M Baku was 3d printed, creating a contoured wood-like surface.

In addition to doing justice to Black Panther, the design has played a prominent role in the film’s success. It is a perfect example of a symbiotic balance with nature. The sets represented tradition, culture, and people over technology. This feature made it stand out amongst architecture in other films. The architecture has done justice by describing the character and juxtaposition of the characters. No wonder the designer Hannah Beachler has won many awards and is widely appreciated for her work in film worldwide.

Author

Vismai is a driven student leveraging studies in architecture and a keen observant of fine details in art forms who has had a passion for writing and poetry since forever. Along with sketches, she considers writing as a valuable tool to interpret buildings.

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