Grand buildings – Buildings which genuinely take your breath away with either the sheer immensity of it, or just at how lavishly it is decorated. We’ll be checking both into the same list here, where the more epic the setting feels, the better it’ll do on our list. So, let’s get right to it in this week’s Top 10 list.
And hey, before you go, please do go and check out the vote at the end of the article. Today marks the four year anniversary of our Top 10’s. Thank you to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.
10) End Of The Line Club – Tron
Though we don’t see much of the outside of the club, the End of Line is pretty grandiose both inside and out. Vibrant against the dark of the Grid, the lights are turned up high, the drinks flow constantly, and Daft Punk play every night! All of this is overseen by the equally spectacular Castor (Michael Sheen), whose glowing cane and ever joyous demeanour make a party atmosphere by themselves.
Positioned at the top of the tallest tower that overlooks the city, the party floor has the greatest view a program could ask for. A shuttle-car brings guests from the floor to the top, meaning that security should be a flawlessly managed thing. Sadly, Clu’s security forces are better prepared for renegade club owners, and the End of Line club is now… ended.
9) The Tower of Isengard – Lord of the Rings
They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard, they said. But what they didn’t count on is the fact that one of these powerful wizard-folk were going to turn on them. But I digress, Isengard is a bit of a dump when you really look at it on the outside. It’s just a bloody great big iron fortress, of which the name implies. It became the home of the almost hermit-like Saruman, a wise and powerful wizard. Who, y’know, betrays them all.
Anyway, ignoring the betrayal, the reason we chose the Tower of Isengard is the sheer immensity of it. Unlike the rest of the area, it’s just this massive spire which sits dead centre in the fortress. Don’t get me wrong, it plays an important part and is one hell of an image, but what doesn’t sit right with me is the lack of being able to see the insides. The film makes a great case for it; the book paints an impressive image… But we just don’t know what’s going on inside.
That summit however is rather incredible.
8) Cair Paravel – Narnia
The Kings and Queens of Narnia rule from within Cair Paravel, a massive, incredible castle in the realm of Narnia. Through them wardrobes you go, as you step into Narnia, where the castle houses the four thrones. Indeed, this castle is central to the story of Narnia in many ways, even if we’re not necessarily going to see everything about it, which is why we can’t rank this one much higher than this spot.
However, don’t let the placing on this list fool you. Cair Paravel is an incredible castle, home to many a people. Depending on where abouts you are, it’s just a castle or it’s a castle surrounded by a whole city. Naturally, a city isn’t a building, so throughout we’ve focused on the castle… Which is truly a shame, as hey, spoilers, that castle ain’t staying up forever. All in all, it represents power and position, which is always a surefire way for something to be brought down!
7) The Combine Citadel Tower – Half Life 2
The ominous scar that marrs the skyline of City 17, and for thousands of miles around, the Citadel is an icon of oppression. Literally scraping the sky, the tower reaches up high enough to define the clouds around its apex, and at its base it trails cables, a constant vampiric feed of information used to monitor, control, and subdue.
The monolith is so vast it requires a train to efficiently travel through. The space is filled by an enormous military force, a portal to alien destinations, and the leviathan “Advisors” that have come to enslave humanity. It’s hard to put a human face on a force that grim, and Wallace Breen is not the face any of us would have chosen.
6) The Dark Tower – Stephen King
If I were to tell you that The Dark Tower is basically about a gunslinger who’s taking over a tower, by, y’know, shooting stuff to get to said tower… It all sounds rather daft. But, that’s actually kind of what The Dark Tower is in a nutshell – And the imagery the book sets is amazing. Standing before the massive tower, one lone gunslinger is out for vengeance, from a disturbed childhood. It’s riveting reading and viewing.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Stephen King novels, you cannot deny the immensity of the tower. It’s arguably one of the taller constructs on our list. It’s hard to place what the tower is exactly, except for a nightmarish place which must be entered to be destroyed. Technically, it’s effectively a hub for many worlds… But we’ll let you read or watch it for yourself. We follow our protagonist through his perilous journey into the tower. However, you’d be better off not following Roland into the Dark Tower, as you’d be better off knowing it’s dark secrets.
5) Hyrule Castle – Legend of Zelda
Arguably the most classic example of a video game building on this list, Hyrule Castle has seen many iterations throughout the ages. It doesn’t matter what version you’ve seen, it’s always one of the grandest dungeons in any Legend of Zelda title. As of the time of writing, Hyrule Castle has been in 11 Legend of Zelda titles, which definitely makes it one of the most prolific entries on this list.
Hyrule Castle will always hold a place in gamers hearts; With a multitude of enemies having taken it over, the princess having been kidnapped and much more, Hyrule Castle has a checkered past. Here’s hoping one day Hyrule Castle will be a much more stable and secure place for a king and queen to rule from, but whilst we’ve got Legend of Zelda titles, you can bet that some serious adventuring is going to take place within the walls.
Tidy stone, royal carpets, throne rooms – This castle’s got the lot. It’s even got a dungeon underneath it, to keep the villains locked up.
4) The Disney Castle
Ahh, the iconic edifice that opens every Disney film, the many turreted, completely impractical castle over a river. I’m not saying it’s completely indefensible, but it’s not difficult to get passed that outer wall, and the compound beyond appears to be chaotic, without safe points of retreat and consolidation. Now, the original Neuschwanstein Castle, that’s got some holding power, check out that long runway, leaving invaders open to bombardment and forcing them to bottleneck for easy rep- y’know what, never mind.
The Disney Castle is iconic, a centrepiece to the visual spectacular that is every Disneyland, and the very image we have come to know from the House of Mouse. Despite the Mickey Mouse logo, we perhaps know the castle better now as a culture, since it rose to visual dominance in the days of Sleeping Beauty.
3) Tyrell Corporation – Bladerunner
From a vision of wonder, the the very epitome of domination. The great squat pyramid of Tyrell – producers of the Replicant androids – aglow with lights, but no less dark for the near-divine image it portrays. To refer to the compound as a pyramid is no mistake, creators of “life” after a fashion, Tyrell have created for themselves the image of a kind of god-king, and their temple dominates the horizon.
The floating obelisk-like outer buildings create an almost ethereal power about the thing, as though it defies physics. The interior is as temple-like as the outside, bedecked in fabric hangings, modelled to capture the image of the pope’s bedroom, or the inside of a grand cathedral. Make no mistake, this is dystopia concentrated, all hail the corporation, Tyrell is god to the people.
2) Stark Tower – Marvel
More accurately, Avengers Tower now, Stark Tower suffered some auspiciously cosmetic damage during the Chitauri invasion of New York, losing the S, T, R and K, somehow keeping hold of the stylised “A”. The landing pad sets it apart from every other tower in the Manhattan skyline, veering out from the side of the upper floors to really underline the fact that there are no helicopters putting down there, just a suit.
The lounge that overlooks the landing pad is spacious enough to host a party, a well stocked bar overlooks a seating and party space large enough to swing a god. Just below is a fully automated repair and maintenance facility for the Iron Man Suits and the Iron Legion, along with a variety of workshops and labs further and further down, including spaces specifically made to accommodate the other Avengers. The tower is impressive inside and out, and while it would serve no purpose, I still feel that New York itself would be improved for the addition of a fake one.
Not like Disney couldn’t do it for the giggles…
1) Hogwarts – Harry Potter
If you didn’t think Hogwarts was getting our first place spot, you’d have been sorely mistaken. Hogwarts is indeed our first pick – Although this wasn’t the only building in the Harry Potter universe that we considered. Indeed, we considered Ollivander’s Wand Shop, for the immensity of his collection of wands. We considered Gringotts, as the wealth of gold and the fact there’s a massive roller coaster to get to your vault. We considered Hog’s Head Inn, but that wasn’t that grand.
Indeed, Hogwarts was a fitting first place on this list. Without it, we’d have not seen so many exciting stories. We’ve gone to dark places that most wizards wouldn’t dream of seeing. We’ve been to all sorts of different wonderfully terrifying places within the walls of the school. The fact this massive, magical school is surrounded by forests filled with wildlife, vast luscious grounds, a Quidditch pitch and more is just the beginning.
Once you penetrate the fortress itself, there are staircases that move around. Grand, incredible paintings which are literally alive. A huge dining hall, where all announcements are made… Trust us, there was no better pick than the immensity of Hogwarts.
Indeed, being grand is an important matter… Although the term grand is indeed incredibly subjective. Are we on about pure size? What about randomisation?! Indeed, we’ve got two more plausible entries which we couldn’t quite fit on our list, but we certainly had to give them a bit of a nod!
Knightmare Castle – Knightmare
This was a fun pick to put in here – The Knightmare Castle doesn’t really have much of a name, other than the TV shows namesake, but honestly there have been so many great stories told in here. If you’ve never seen Knightmare, watch an episode of it above. This was a much beloved show which runs live events now-a-days and that’s about it. A pity, as honestly so many kids would love to see Knightmare on TV.
Dreaming aside, the castle was incredible. Sometimes it had people playing NPCs whose whole purpose was to kill the heroic kids; other times it had NPCs willing to get the kids out of harm’s way. Sometimes, people would get poisoned – And every time, the protagonist would be blinded by the magnificence of the castle; so much so, they would always say…
“… Where am I?!”
Unseen University – Discworld
Ankh Morpork’s campus for practitioners of the arcane is a wondrous place of learning. From the glass dome of the High Energy Magic Building and its strange atmosphere of thaumatological radiation, to the soaring, crooked Tower of Art, UU is a wonder of the mystic art of architecture and containing large amount of wizard.
Rivalled across the disc only by Buggerup Uni in Fourecks with its many-heighted tower, the university is a defining feature of the AM skyline on those days when it can be seen through the dust, smog, and general effluence of the Ankh. You could buy it in paper-craft at one point, pretty sure I missed my chance though.
So, we’ve got something to admit to all of you. Today marks the four year anniversary of our first Top 10 article, Top 10 Bears. It’s old, it’s outdated and so, so many of our classics are. But, we loved every one of them so much. To celebrate, we’re picking up three of our classic Top 10’s for a redo as we think there are many new entries we could consider – So, go ahead, select one for us to do a redeux on. Will they be better, or will they be basically the same as before?
That’s it for another Top 10 list – But as ever, we’re not quite finished yet. We’re going to pass the conversation onto you now. What did you make of our list today? Did we get the right buildings, or did we forget about any truly grand buildings? Did we get the order right? Could anything have toppled Hogwarts? Leave your comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, on behalf of Timlah and Joel: Thanks again to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.
Let us educate all of you here, a school or a college is an institution that has an educational curriculum. Now that I’ve said that, you might have realised that this discounts a lot of things that purport to be a school in any media. The issue with media is we see a lot of stuff, but we rarely see education happening, because it’s not exciting to watch, read or play.
However, we’ve gone back to think about what some of the best schools and colleges in the whole of geekdom are. We think we’ve come up with some pretty good ones. Let’s see if you are going to be a teachers pet after this lot, or if you’re just a poor student.
10) Camp Half-Blood – Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Everyone has heard of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but if not, it’s a good way to learn more about mythology. Amusingly, Percy Jackson himself has been expelled from every school he’s gone to, so it’s not like you’re without schools in this series – But the most prominent one, at least the one that takes him in, is Camp Half-Blood. Known as the only safe place for Half-Bloods, Percy’s mother is told that she needs to send him there and that’s basically where he continues his education.
This is our number 10 pick simply because there’s not much in the way of “schooling” in this series. Yes, the camp technically counts as an educational institution, as there is technically a curriculum in place. With this said, it doesn’t mean it’s the best pick – but it’s certainly what we’d count as a school using our own terms. What do you all think though?
9) House of Night
House of Night is a series of books written by P. C. Cast and her daughter, Kristin Cast. It’s been out for over 9 years so far, but not a lot of people have really heard of this series or know much about it. It just so happens, we have the whole set here, which I intend to have a go through at some point. The most important thing to note about House of Night is that it’s all set in the House of Night Campus, a school for…
Vampyres. Yeah, I know, there seems to be a typo on the word vampire, but the whole series revolves around a girl called Zoey Redbird and her adventures as one of those who have been marked. Being marked in this series means you’re basically a chosen one for the vampyre goddess. This series is full of blood (obviously), sex and rather graphic descriptions of what’s going on. Oh, did I mention that this series also did manage to get a #1 best seller as well, back in 2009? So it can’t be that unknown, right?
8) Battle School – Ender’s Game
The only orbital school in our list, this space-station was designed to teach strategy in zero gravity, to identify a true leader, someone who could truly win a war on a galactic scale with vast gulfs between worlds as their battlefield. Through team games to shockingly (almost alarmingly) accurate simulations, the brilliant are whittled down to the exceptional, and from the exceptional are drawn the almost unnatural, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin.
Set in a future in which humanity was brought to the brink of extermination twice by a race of alien insects, the response is nothing short of utter obliteration from the human military force, but after surviving the impossible before only the impossible would do in retaliation. As such, Battle School is made to find the very best of the very best. While a better job could have been done in presenting the novel’s themes on screen, a fine job indeed was done of showing the educational space-station and the life and death lessons learned therein.
7) Highschool of the Dead
If you enjoy The Walking Dead and only wish you could see a bunch of heavily armed school children who look like teens and young adults deal with the collapse of society in a world overrun by the shambling corpses of the dead then look no further. Highschool of the Dead features exactly such a band of survivors on their twelve episode and one OVA journey through a world infested with zombies, brought low by the corruption that dwells within all of us, and features absolutely no fan-service whatsover, none, it is not that kind of anime.
Alright so it’s Left for Dead meets Dead or Alive with a crate of military grade guns and a rather extensive bath-scene. Anime, can we not have a zombie apocalypse without you boobing things up? Still the kids make it though alive… ish, and it does make you wonder what Fujimi High School is teaching it’s students.
6) Unseen University – Discworld
Sat amidst the economic trade hub Ankh-Morpork is the world’s premier arcane education and research facility. It holds the largest collection of books, enough to collapse normal space and enter into the strange sub-dimension lined with bookshelves connecting all libraries. The High Energy Magic Building is a gigantic centre for wyrd science, containing a self-upgrading computer named HEX. Even the rubbish dump around the back is a micro-economy called the Unreal Estate.
As a locale for most of the world’s magic it’s also a centre for a lot of major plot points, such as the rise of the Sorcerer, a spawning point for idle thought manifestation, and time travel! Oh and also the tallest building on the disk. Wizards of UU are generally an amiable bunch, prone to between-meal meals and the odd bout of world-saving, so if you’re in a pinch that’s looking likely to get apocalyptic on some level, there’s a place in the city you can always rely on for help, eventually.
5) Third Street Elementary – Recess
This is almost entirely a nostalgia entry for us, we may have to do an entire piece of Recess itself one day because just describing the school will never suffice.
We follow the stories of the allied band of misfits as the strange dynamics of the playground turn into epic dramas of monumental scale, the social hierarchy is exerted to the fullest extent, and games get all too real. King Bob sits atop his climbing-frame throne as a figurehead to the shadow-government of the Ashleys clique, savage kindergarteners and withdrawn Pale Kids, all under the tyrannical gaze of Ms Finster and her cringing pawn Randall.
It’s a dynamic world to cram into a twenty minute play-break, half hour lunch and the brief spaces before and after school, but Third Street Elementary shows us a world in which all of life’s trails and nuances are boiled down to simple play, and it’s done so rather brilliantly.
4) Whispering Rock – Psychonauts
Busted down for not having much of a campus to speak of, absent of classrooms and main-halls, instead find a mess room, tree-house, boating lake and geodesic psychoisolation chamber. Normal summer-camp stuff. Still it’s a place of guided learning, with teachers who are experts in their field leading a class of students through a series of important lessons for aspiring psychonauts.
Lessons include mental infiltration, telekinetic levitation, in-brain combat, conspiracy unravelling, and psychoactive healthcare and un-lobotomising the lobotomised. No lanyard making or canoeing lessons, no sir. Even fishing is a little “different” but when you’re in the preliminary stages of joining an organisation of telepathic secret agents you cannot expect a typical summer camp experience.
3) Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma
Shokugeki no Soma is a culinary school which see’s the best chefs in Japan (and further afield) come together, in the name of excellence. From people who have been part of a long line of prestigious restaurant chains, to women who can certainly handle meat better than anyone could imagine, Shokugeki no Soma is an exciting look at making food. I’ve not been this excited to see people cook since the classic TV show Ready, Steady, Cook!
Our protagonist is Soma, who comes from a small cafe. The other students see Soma as uncouth, a little brash and all in all, not worthy of their school. Of course, Soma has to realise his own shortcomings as part of the show, but he’s all about providing nothing but the very best. Even if he didn’t want to go to the school himself. Oh and if you’ve not seen this show before, this is the anime that brought some of the rudest food related gifs to the internet. Like the one above!
2) Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Who studies on a campus with a stealth jet under the basketball court, a lethal semi-sapient training room, and a massive telepathic amplifier in the basement?
The school for gifted youngsters is incredibly selective in who it permits to join, indeed it might very well be the most discriminating learning institution in the world, as applicants require a specific genetic distinction that sets them apart from the average person. “Gifted” refers to superpowered mutants, the kind of kids who can turn their skins to metal, phase through walls, fire concussive light beams from their bodies, or teleport.
Mundanes need not apply! This is no mere place of learning but also a place of shelter and respite, the one campus that can earnestly be considered a safe space, practically a fortress for the heavily persecuted against mutant race.
1) Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts is of course going to be our number one pick on Top 10 Schools/Colleges. Think about what the entire premise of Harry Potter is about – And to make it even better, this last Friday, our meetup theme was Harry Potter. So yes, we’re a little bit Harry Potter mad at the moment, but you can’t really expect anything below to have beaten the one and only school for Witchcraft and Wizardry, now can you?
From Argus Filch who is one of the sleaziest caretakers you’ll ever meet, to the grand headmaster Dumbledore, this school has it all. Teachers with agendas against kids who have wronged them and of course, the typical awkwardness of teenage dancing. Yes, Hogwarts truly has it all – and then some! From house elves to owls, parchments to howlers, this magical school was honestly an intriguing and entertaining world – and I’m really looking forward to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
It’s not so elementary, my dear reader, as we’ve come to an end of the bulk of our Top 10 list. But as per usual, we feel the need to enlighten you all some more with extras. Things that we feel should be mentioned, but not necessarily worth going onto our list.
If any of you have seen this film, you’ll know it’s downright pure cheese and you’re questioning my sanity for even mentioning this film. The truth of the matter is, I’ve not even seen it, but from what I’ve seen of the story behind it and from what I’ve heard about it, I think it kind of deserves the mention. You see, this isn’t any ordinary school, it’s one that supports the education of super heroes.
Young Will Stronghold is the son of two of the most famous superheroes of all: The Commander and Jetstream. Will however doesn’t have any powers of his own, at least none that have yet awakened. We’re treated to a pure cheese fest where bully kids treat him like an outsider due to his lack of powers and a bunch of Will’s friends. It’s goofy, it’s basically gorgonzola, but it’s actually quite a clever play on the superhero niche.
Those of us who grew up with Flash games by the man who made Newgrounds, Tom Fulp, will be very familiar with this title. It was bloody, it was insane, it was outright despicable when it came out, but we all absolutely loved how devious it was. From threatening to cut off male genitalia, to kids shooting one another up, this was a downright bloodbath of a Flash game, before they became huge.
Sure, it certainly wouldn’t make it onto our Top 10 list, as it’s not quite got the edge, but this game was sick for something so accessible… And we loved it. Yes, it’s violent, yes, there was a real education system in there… But ultimately, it becomes nothing more than a glorified arena. It’s a real bloodbath, with unsettling themes. You can check it out for yourself here but be warned, it’s not for young audiences.
Ultimately the test in knowing if a school has been good is how memorable it is – and if there’s something the above has taught us, there’s little as memorable as some of the great schools we’ve mentioned in our Top 10. Of course, memorability is one thing, but being an educational institution is the most important criteria of being a school. Having a school which is entirely dependent on actually educating its students is kind of why we’ve picked the ones we have. So then, it’s time for you to pick our next Top 10!
Now kids, don’t forget to stay behind after class to give the teacher your coursework. This time, you get to grade the grown-ups, as we are passing the conversation back to you. What do you think of our Top 10 Schools/Colleges? Do you think we were right in our number one pick, or is some of register jumbled up? Are there any finer establishments you could think of than the ones above? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.