by Anmol AhujaNov 05, 2021
An entire generation owes their fix of the childhood magic and their early fantasy trappings satiated to the Harry Potter saga. In fact, it would be fair to say that a million strong fandom of “potterheads” swear by it, still awaiting their letters of acceptance from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, having dissociated with their “muggle” lives, finding magic in JK Rowling’s fantastical saga of the boy who lived. The sense of imagination invoked by these books is unparalleled, not just in the spells, the potions, and the conflicts, but also in a distinct sense of place in the expansive world it creates. Within the books, the visual sense, a “style” of its architecture that prevailed was a cross between an English town and countryside castles, something that the immensely popular films too impressionably bolstered as a much more definitive visual image of these places. How then, do you “redefine” such an intergenerational, iconic sense of place? AMDL Circle and Michele De Lucchi propose going back to zero, and working with attributing a more symbolic value to our architecture, in a manner that allowed everyone to interpret it freely based on their own personal experiences.
“The covers are the result of a holistic and multidisciplinary perspective that intertwines a fantasy saga with contemporary architecture”, states an official release from AMDL circle. Citing the fantasy epic’s visual carousel as being “rich and tantalising” to the degree of it being crystallised in the audience’s eyes, proving to be one of their major challenges and considerations while redesigning the covers, the Italian multidisciplinary practice founded by De Lucchi worked its way through little room for reinterpretation. Drawing on the present design imagery of the studio and on real Italian architecture that seem to have a symbolic connection with the sites in the novels, the graphic redesigns create an additional layer of fantasy with a new definition, rooted in the existing.
For the first book in the decade defining saga, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the cover reinterprets the Hogwarts castle as a solid and sturdy construction, anchored heavily to the ground, but reaching upwards through pointed spires in an act of increased momentum, pushing towards the sky. The inspiration for this almost sculptural edifice comes from the gothic abbeys of Tuscany and central Italy. For Chamber of Secrets, the Burrow, the Weasley family residence is reinterpreted as a stacked, shingled structure in wood, unreally balancing a pitched roof on top of its narrowing profile, strongly evocative of a sense of “architectural” magic, apart from harbouring a feeling of home, nurturing and protective. The eponymous Azkaban prison highlights the cover of ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ as a cold structure composed of cuboidal volumes with strong vertical striations, further adding to the imposition. The team and De Lucchi interpreted it as a “mythological construction” strongly reminiscent of the Hotel Medea in Batumi.
There is now a noble thought that lies behind AMDL’s rethinking of the architectural icon representing the Goblet of Fire, the Quidditch arena that not only hosts the iconic game from Harry’s first year, but has immense signatory value for the entire school. The redesigned cover visualises the arena as a “travelling stadium”, seguing to the possibility of stadium architecture being more sustainable by virtue of disassembly and eventual reassembly. The tree like design seeks obvious inspiration from the pavilions at Icon Expo in Milano. Order of the Phoenix, contrary to its popular feature of the room of requirements, features Hagrid’s hut on the cover, as an architectural object that “blends into the surrounding nature and testifies to manual work”, comparing the modest dwelling to an inconspicuous haystack.
The Half Blood Prince finds its visual inspiration in a heart-breaking yet tragically iconic scene, the death of Dumbledore, following a killing curse from Snape atop the Astronomy tower. Cited to be Hogwarts’ highest point, AMDL’s interpretation for the towers comes from the Air Tower they built for the Arch&Art project at the Milan Triennale. In De Lucchi’s design though, despite the “fall” being the event to immortalise the structure in Harry Potter lore, the narrowing towers acquire a new meaning of reflection on man’s existence and transience by gazing upward.
The final clash at Hogwarts and the culmination of the saga in The Deathly Hallows is also underlined by a bold choice in its architectural representation. Instead of the courtyard where a majority of the action and the final showdown takes place, De Lucchi chooses the bridge leading from the forbidden forest to Hogwarts that is destroyed during the battle. Terming bridges to be a very symbolic architecture, facilitating connection and cohesion between two points, AMDL’s reinterpretation of it is inspired from the sinusoidal Bridge of Peace’s profile in Tbilisi, also designed by De Lucchi.