Extracted from Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had to be grounded in reality.
‘An early decision was not to make it whimsical, not to make it a fairy-tale castle, but to make it heavy, enduring, and real,’ explains production designer Stuart Craig. ‘Here is a story about an English public school, so we made it as much like one as we possibly could.’
And so Craig looked first to ‘the two great universities in England – Oxford and Cambridge. But we also went to the great European cathedrals. We wanted Hogwarts to be in the medieval gothic style, which is strong and dynamic, and so we cherry-picked from everywhere – the best from the universities, the best from the cathedrals – and then slammed them together.’
Although designed to look and feel like an enduring institution, Hogwarts has evolved to match the needs of the story over the course of eight films.
‘The way to go would have been able to read right through the seven books when we started,’ Craig laughs. ‘But I think some of these changes and additions have added a level of interest to the films. We’ve moved things around, let things expand, had them develop, or made them disappear altogether.’