Architecture is a rather broad umbrella (it’s a topic I’m probably going to address in another post). Looking at buildings is one step while looking at the context of the building is another. In looking at the context we look at the city, and the urban landscape and how the building interacts with those things. For example, a city skyline, and the way people move around that area of the city are a few things to consider. So with that said, since I looked at a building last week, this week I wanted to look at a city.
This week, I’m looking at one of Sword Art Online’s various world’s. Specifically ALFheim Online’s (ALO) City of Arun(Alne). Arun is located in the center of ALO at the base of the world tree and is considered to be the captial. It’s the main area for advanced dungeons in the area and acts as the main marketplace in which all races can visit. Arun is so large that it’s divided into 5 parts: North, East, South, West and Central. The World Tree Dome is in the center, while there are dungeons located in the other 4 locations. There are many references to Norse Mythology in ALO, so I started to look into related topics, for example: Norse Architecture, which led me to dig up information about Viking Urban Planning. Aside from your regular towns, Vikings created ring-shaped fortresses known as “trelleborgs”. These circular citadels consisted of outer circular walls that with ditches in front, and four gates at the 4 compass points and 2 axial roads that divided it and linked the gates to one another. Those quadrants were then filled with long-houses that were arranged in a rectangular pattern.
I thought it was interesting to compare the old fortress plan to that to that of Arun. Arun is at the center of the ALO world, and as shown in the photo its enclosed by a mountain range. Although, Arun is supposed to be neutral ground for all the races within the world, I thought it was interesting that it was so well protected from the rest of the nations; but it makes sense, this is the core of the world and it must be protected. Although there are no definitive streets that divide up Arun, it had been divided into the quadrants, and instead of the gates at the each compass point, it was replaced with some of the most dangerous dungeons in the area. It’s quite a contrast for the purposes of these 4 points, in one way it serves as an exit out, wheres in ALO’s world they serve as entrances.
The overall composition of Arun reminds me of a chapel that was recently built in Japan. The Ribbon Chapel (by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Architects) is a part of a resort in Onimichi, Hiroshima. The wedding chapels’ design intent was to create two sprial staircases that intertwined creating a free-standing structure that symbolized what marriage is: two people that starting on two different paths ultimately converging in on one point in which they unite. The curvature of the building reminds me of the large pieces that come up from the landscape of Arun. The cruves in Arun then slowly twist from a vertical position to a horizontal surface as it merges into the ground. The chapel doesn’t do it as fluidly as Arun does, but the cruving pathway in the back creates the illusion of unfolding into the ground. I feel that the pathway to a destination should reflect some kind of element of the architecture; it could be similar or completely different. Not only does it allow for a cohesive design; but allows for better integration into the surrounding context, which in this case is the landscape.
Overall I think the city of Arun is beautiful as I’m in love with the use of lines and curves, much like a mobius strip. Not to mention it’s pretty whimsical just looking at it. I thought it was pretty cool I was able to find a connection of the Norse mythology used in the world of ALO to that of Viking Urban Planning that was actually used in reality. Research is fun! That about does it for this Fantasy Friday! I hope you enjoyed this post and look forward to any comments you guys may have!