Star Wars in Tunisia

Star Wars filming location in Tunisia

The Architecture of Star Wars includes the cities, buildings, ships, and other structures of the fictional Star Wars universe as described and depicted in books, movies, comics, and cartoons. Architects Journal ranked the top 10, including the Death Star and the Jedi Temple.[1]

Comparing the urban and natural environments pictured in Star Wars, Mark Lamster wrote that the cities are places of danger and corruption, while the forces of good find sanctuary in the natural world.[2] He also describes the "retro-futurist" cities in the series as being in between those extremes and places of "great beauty but dubious moral character." He attributes the ambivalence towards urbanity to series creator George Lucas' own feelings about cities and urban environments.[2]

The settings of the movie have generally been praised, but one author took exception to the "anachronistic period architecture and statuary" of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, saying it improperly associated third world buildings with conceptions of innocence and the primitive in a way that was discriminatory and demeaning.[3]

Planet settingsEdit

Luke Skywalker is first seen in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope living with his adoptive parents in a "complex of caves and domed structures" on Tatooine, filmed in the Tunisian desert town of Matmata.[3] The end of the first movie was shot in the Guatemalan rain forest where a celebration with rebel allies takes place in a caved area (a scene said to be borrowed from Leni Riefenstahl's 1934 Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will[3]). The exotic locales provide scenery that is unfamiliar to "all but a few experts in non-western architecture", providing the films with fantastic settings that could still be believable.[3]

Urban planningEdit

Three architecture and planning students noted that the "latest" (1999) Star Wars movie (The Phantom Menace) offered "a variety of urban development options" in a San Diego Tribune story headlined "How would you like to live on a Star Wars' world."[4] The article included illustrations of Coruscant ("completely covered by development" and "surrounded by mile-high skyscrapers"), including views from the Jedi Council building, and the city of Theed (inspired by an 18th-century palace near Naples, Italy).[4] On Coruscant, "development extends miles below the surface of the city and up into the clouds."[4]

The "urban future" has also been depicted in Blade Runner where "the setting is a grimy, crime-ridden Los Angeles in the 21st century".[4] The architecture of Star Wars may also have been influenced by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.[3] The designs continued Lucas' work from his first feature film, THX 1138, which featured a claustrophobic, Orwellian "subteranean world of black-and-white spaces" where the population is subdued with drugs and kept under constant surveillance.[3]


The battle cruisers featured in Star Wars have been described as examples of "Suprematist architecture".[5]

Real world buildings that mirror Star WarsEdit

The San Francisco Federal Building designed by Thom Mayne has been compared to the Jawa Sandcrawler featured in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.[6] The ING headquarters building (in Amsterdam, Netherlands) has been described as looking like something out of Star Wars that could "move forward on its legs".[7] Conversely, the Trinity College, Dublin Long Room Library is thought to be the basis for the Jedi Academy Library in Attack of the Clones.[8] [9]

See alsoEdit


  1. James Pallister Top 10: The Architecture of Star Wars (pt II) 15 June 2009 Architects Journal (UK)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mark Lamster "Evil foes build ever-more-elaborate urban monstrosities- machines not for living but killing, and killing on a grand scale" Architecture and film Star Wars and the City page 6
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Mark Lamster Architecture and film Wretched Hives: George Lucas and the Ambivalent Architecture of Star Wars page 234
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Roger M. Showley "The latest "Star Wars" movie ofers a variety of urban development options according to three architecture and planning students who previewed the film; from left, [Tim Belzman], San Diego State University; Bruce Fallown, Newschool of Architecture; and [David Sin], Woodbury University School of Architecture." Cosmic communities; How would you like to live on a `Star Wars' world? May 30, 1999 page H.1 San Diego Union
  5. Simon Ings Falling star 21 April 2001 New Scientist
  6. Joshua Glenn Architecture imitates art? April 25, 2007 Boston Globe
  7. Philip Jodidio Architecture now!

Further readingEdit

  • Kippins, Jeffrey Star Wars III: The Battle at the Center of the Universe; Investigations in Architecture Eisenman Studios at the GSD 1983-1985 Ed. 1986

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