Muggles might not have magical schools, but we do have one thing going for us: lots and lots of fast food. From King’s Cross Station to Diagon Alley, Harry Potter has made us look at London in a whole new way — but it’s Burger King of all places that inspired one of the most important buildings in the wizarding world.
After four movies worth of build-up, we finally got to see the Ministry of Magic in all its glory in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. On the surface, the Ministry of Magic and the Tottenham Court Road Burger King don’t have much in common. Still, Stuart Craig, the production designer for the Harry Potter movies, said the architecture of that specific burger joint was key.
“As to inspiration, we went to research and asked ourselves ‘What do real underground places look like?’ The most obvious one is the London Underground,” Craig said in an interview with Coming Soon.
“We looked at some of the earlier ones, the ones built around 1900. It’s absolutely beautiful. They tried to imitate classical architecture but they used ceramic tile. That’s a hell of a good idea. It’s beautiful and impervious to water. That was one decision there and then. In places, we gilded it so it’s burnished gold on top of the Victorian colors, the dark red and dark green.”
“Another influence was a Burger King,” he added. “If you look above the Burger King, there’s a fantastic Victorian façade which just embodies the age, decoration for decoration’s sake. The form of it is beautiful too, it has this bay window.”
At the heart of Harry Potter’s wizarding world is the production design team’s ability to make places look contemporary yet timeless.
Using Victorian architecture as the basis for buildings like the Ministry of Magic means you can really visualize it as having a rich history and for there to be wizards and witches milling about in the eighteenth century. Designing a building to look both contemporary and timeless is a tricky balance, but no one walks that tightrope better than Stuart Craig.