Extracted from Harry Potter Film Wizardry.
For Malfoy Manor, we took our inspiration from Hardwick Hall, a fantastic sixteenth-century mansion built during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth. A unique building, Hardwick has massive windows – so much so that the ratio of glass to masonry is quite high.
When it’s dark inside, the window panes have a mysterious, slightly threatening, and rather magical quality. We made a concept illustration that depicted a huge house with enormous windows – the eyes of the building, so to speak – that were, in fact, blind. That exterior, seen as Snape approaches the gate on the front drive, creates a very impressive and intimidating initial look at the Malfoy home.
To bring the building into the wizarding world, we added a roof with spires. The silhouette was terrific, and because the manor is a real departure from the architecture in the rest of the film, I think those pitched roofs convey something rather otherworldly – and provide a link back to the Gothic style that Harry Potter audiences are familiar with. And, of course, spikes and points tend to add a somewhat aggressive, menacing feeling.
From the entrance hall, with its huge fireplace and Tudor portraits, you climb a double staircase to an upper floor that is filled with long windows. The vast ceiling on that floor is decorated with elaborate plaster mouldings and a great chandelier, which plays an important part in the events that unfold within the manor.
That no other doors lead out of the room was not a conscious decision – it’s just that none were necessary. However, it is altogether appropriate that you felt, even subconsciously, once you’re up there, you’re trapped!