Exploring the Architecture of Harry Potter's Universe

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opens in theaters this Friday, we’ll be closing the door on a beloved film franchise. As our friends over Architizer point out, one of the most memorable aspects of these magical movies — especially for the architecturally-inclined — is their intricate set design. Now, thanks to Architectural Digest’s new interview with Academy Award–winning production designer Stuart Craig, you can meet the man who helped bring J.K. Rowling’s epic vision to life. Click through for a few quick highlights from the article, and head over to Architectural Digest to take the full tour of the Potter sets.


Fleur and Bill’s seashell cottage. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk

“I try to find a logic for whatever the set is and somehow I felt it was wrong for [Shell Cottage] to be too whimsical, too fanciful. So this cottage has a logic. If you really wanted to build a house on the beach, what would you do? Well, you would use local materials. And the local materials would be either rocks or seashells.”


Gringott’s Wizarding Bank. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk

“Banks are traditionally symbols of stability. I know that recent history undid all this, but that is the intention in bank architecture—to convey this feeling of reassurance, of stability, of solidity. So our banking hall, like any other, is made of marble and big marble columns. And it has great strength.”


Dumbledore’s Office at Hogwarts. Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk

“Hogwarts, if you look carefully, is constantly growing and changing shape. In the third movie, there’s a tower with a little sort of prison cell at the top for Sirius Black, and then in subsequent movies that’s completely gone. In the sixth film, there’s a huge tower that’s a completely different design, and that’s the tower that Dumbledore falls from and dies.”


Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk

“Because it was a franchise — eight movies — that lasted ten years, we built up a great archive of things we’d already made. Doors, windows, staircases, and bits of set got recycled and reused. It was an incredible luxury to have a kind of scene dock for stuff that was used previously, but that could be applicable to the next thing.”