The architecture of the Commonwealth resembles that of our own timeline, though with certain key differences, driven primarily by technology and socioeconomic aspects of the culture.
On technology, the core difference arises from the availability as an additional building-technology. In more rural regions, or wherever the soil-conditions would permit, a complete house can be grown, where the rooms of the house are made up of a set of internal spaces created either on the inside of a tree-trunk, or a thicket of closely-spaced trunks, as per a coppiced tree-trunk. They can also be created as ‘pods’ along the line of a vine-like parent-branch, in effect presenting as an instant street or terrace of linked habitations.
This leads in turn to a tendency, even in buildings constructed from felled-wood, brick, stone or other artificial materials, to create spaces that are less rectilinear and more rounded or organic in form – somewhat as per Gaudí‘s buildings in Barcelona in our timeline. Openings such as windows and doors also tend to be more rounded, to cope with the mechanical and other stresses from living timber-structures that continue to grow and change for the lifetime of the ‘building’ – though perhaps this is rarely as extreme as envisaged in Tolkien‘s The Hobbit.
On socioeconomics, the Commonwealth’s more egalitarian model means that the two extremes of architecture so prevalent in our own timeline all but disappear: the grandiose palaces of the hyper-rich, and the desperate slums and ‘rookeries’ of the very poor.
For the ‘palaces’, some equivalents do exist, more often constructed from stone or other artificial materials. These are mainly public buildings or shared-spaces – much as in a city of today – rather than as servant-powered private residences of a single ‘owner’-family.
For the ‘slums’, the nearest equivalents are the temporary living-spaces grown on the spot for workers on a major project – the equivalent more of a transient tent-city rather than of a permanent slum. Even these, though often derided by foreigners as ‘horrible hovels’, are actually warm and comfortable inside, insulated and even warmed by the natural structures of the base-plant from which the respective vinery developed those homes.
Note also, without the economic disparities in our timeline that forced so many off the land and into the cities as wage-slaves or worse, the overall economy of the Commonwealth remains much more rural than ours. The technologies to create the more complex cityscapes do all exist, and do occur in much the same sequence and prevalence as in our timeline, but the pressure is more from the ‘socio-‘ side of socioeconomics, rather than financial pressures as such.
On decoration of buildings, the egalitarian nature of Commonwealth socioeconomics again means that personal aggrandisement is actively dissuaded – hence few of the grandiose self-portraits and suchlike so common in the 18th- and 19th-centuries of our own timeline. Instead, there is a tendency to use natural motifs almost everywhere, in carvings, paintings, mosaics and even directly grown within the vinery of a viner-structure. As in our timeline, though, this comes to an abrupt halt at the start of the 20th-century – the reasons for which will be explored in the third novel of the Viner Codexseries, The Viner Secret.
(For all countries other than the Commonwealth, I’ve assumed that the respective architectures are essentially the same as in our timeline.)
Last Update: August 28, 2017