Architecture of Neopia: Terror Mountain
Terror Mountain is the region situated at the very North Pole of Neopia, a towering mountainous range overlooking the globe and visible from space. For the purposes of this article, I divide the architectural themes into three: Happy Valley and its wooden, quaint tourist-driven architecture, The Ice Caves, and as the name suggests its unique ice structures, and finally the inhospitable Terror Mountain Peak itself. Scholars of architecture must also understand that of all the lands in Neopia, the lands of Terror Mountain are some of the areas which have undergone the most dramatic architectural changes in recent years, such that modern day Terror Mountain appears almost unrecognisable from the original. However, we will mostly focus on modern Terror Mountain, as it is this architectural style, which is most relevant to our analysis, and greatest reflects the current inhabitants and their culture.
First of all, we will explore Happy Valley. Happy Valley is a large snowy valley situated at the base of Terror Mountain, not too high above sea level. Its role in the greater system of Terror Mountain is that of both being a base point for mountain climbers travelling to the peak of the mountain (whilst a cable cart has been installed in recent years, many still partake in extreme mountain climbing), but also a tourist destination especially around November and December. Its architecture reflects this; it is very tourist friendly with the quaint quirks of maintaining a Christmas sheen all year round. Much of the valley’s architecture is heavily reliant upon timber framing. This makes sense, as the valley and its surrounding area is densely lush with tall spruces and pine trees which provide for long, straight and strong building materials, making wood an abundant commodity. However due to difficulty in transportation, timber framing is not found much higher on the mountain. Some shops interweave the wood with brick structures, such as the Slushie Shop. Other have predominantly wooden exteriors but use bricks of varying size and colour for the chimney only, and in this case many of the variable brick designs are imported from Altador, Moltara and Brightvale as can be seen in their respected towns. These hybrid wooden houses with brick chimneys can be seen in the Gift Card Shop and Scratch Card Kiosk, and are for practicalities sake as wooden chimneys would likely set ablaze. However, linking back to the aspect of tourism being Happy Valley’s largest source of capital, many of the architectural features blend in Christmas themes, such as lamp posts in the streets having a well maintained candy cane veneer, as well as Merry Outfits incorporating actual life size candy canes which can be tasted on the exterior in the place of wooden beams.
Secondly, progressing up through the mountain one would quickly discover that much of Terror Mountain is hollow, making it an exceptionally fascinating geological phenomena, where the water from the snowfall and rainfall has freeze thawed the mountain over millennia whilst keeping the exterior of the mountain intact and stable. This historical process however, has its benefit in the architectural style that has been borne of it. The many winding paths and ice caverns which make up the mountain have become home to unique inhabitants where all bar none in the Ice Caves have constructed their homes and buildings from ice itself. Where lumber and logs are abundant in Happy Valley, ice is the main architectural commodity here. However building structures from the complex material provides its own problems and benefits. For example some of the buildings utilise the natural ice formations, such as the ice crystal shop being hewn from a gigantic crystal shaped structure, however using carefully cut ice bricks in the entranceway and interior, most likely as these ice crystals have dangerously sharp edges. The ice arena on the other hand was a structure pre-existing its crystallised exterior, that through a careful process of encouraging ice crystals has given it the beautiful formations whilst still maintaining a suitable interior for battle. The colouring pages on the other hand, a relatively new structure is constructed entirely from lumps of ice, packed together with snow and frozen in place. This kind of design is almost as durable as using cement elsewhere may be. The most successful kind of architectural design the Ice Caves demonstrates however, must be in my opinion those denizens who have made residence within the caves. Such as the Snowmuncher and Snowager, but also vast colonies of Bori deeper within the mountains. These are almost entirely left natural, yet by the very body heat given off from the inhabitants have slowly formed the caves to be not just liveable, but tailored to each’s requirements.
Finally, moving up to the very peak of Terror Mountain we see once more a departure from the two previous styles of architecture seen in the regions far below. Few chose to take up settlement at the peak of the mountain. It is inhospitable, constantly battered by strong winds and below freezing temperatures. Those who do however, are forced to use their initiative and design houses built for practicality. Rock is a material found this high up, compared to timber of which there are few trees which survive this high and such most would have to be brought up from Happy Valley. Thus many houses are constructed from rocks primarily, and a small amount of timber. There is also the phenomena however of buildings constructed from snow. Despite the strong gales, these structures survive well. For example, the famous Igloo, and also the Snow Faerie Taelia’s abode. Taelia however did inform me that magic plays a large part in keeping such a large manor house constructed from snow, and that inside in fact it is very warm and structurally sound. Perhaps the benefit of constructing a building from snow is that it is a very abundant material, but also that it is a temporary one too. Despite some citizens having resided there their entire life, there is an air of impermanence. That even those who were created there do not wish to commit. Afterall, anything could happen – a passing snow drift or avalanche could destroy a house in moments. But with snow, this house could be rebuilt even quicker.
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