The 10 Best Architectural Worlds in Video Games

Following-up its ranking of the best Star Wars architecture, The Architect’s Journal ranks the best virtual architecture.

World of Warcraft

The Architect’s Journal, which last week brought us the fun list of the 10 best buildings from the Star Wars universe, has followed up with a ranking of the best architecture to be found in video games. The list includes clever write ups, noting the applicable real-world parallels. Here’s the list, and images of a few winners:


1. Azeroth, World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft was pretty much a no-brainer. As AJ writes:

“The stunning diversity of buildings of Azeroth secures it the top spot. Towering Gothic structures recall the ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford given a subversive geometrical revamp. The architecture of the Blood Elves, on the other hand, has softer, more organic influences. Similar to Gaudi’s Parc Guell or Sagrada Familia, nature is expressed in stylised form–the very essence of Art Nouveau.”

2. The City, Sim City

3. Liberty City, Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV



Liberty City is Richard Rogers’ worst nightmare: a city designed for those in lovewith cars. The former adviser to the London Mayor, should he visit, is more likely to be mowed down by an out-of-control automobile than sip an overpriced latte in a pedestrianized piazza peppered with parasols. Yet, despite the evident dangers, people flock to live here. Perhaps its the dramatic sunsets, the coastal location or Liberty City’s aesthetic affinity with the Big Apple. Just don’t call it an Eco-town!

4. Halo, Halo II

5. Scumm Bar, The Secret of Monkey Island

6. The House, Jet Set Willy

7. Architecture Island, Second Life

Second Life
Second Life

Architecture Island, which is run by Keystone Bouchard, was intended as a place for actual architects to explore ideas–they have even held design seminars there. But as AJ writes:


“The only real let-down of this eccentric architectural smorgasbord is a couple of randomly placed wind turbines that expose Bouchard as falling into the trap of sustainability-as-afterthought.”

8. Tetris

9. Castle Wolfenstein, Return to Castle Wolfenstein

10. Marioland


As AJ notes, there’s a perfect parallel to the architecture of Marioland–with its bright colors and chunky geometries–in the architecture of F.A.T., a brilliant London firm whose made its name propounding fantasy-land whimsy. For example, here’s their design for a housing project in England:



Read the rest of the list and see more images over at Architect’s Journal.

Related: The Best Architecture in the ‘Star Wars‘ Galaxy


About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.