vulcan architecture

Well, had a bit of a lapse in getting to my next post, but here it is.  Next to all the fun spacecraft we got to design on Enterprise, we also got to come up with some very fun alien, and in this case Vulcan, architecture.  Episode #83 (the Forge) called for a Vulcan High Command building and the United Earth Embassy, both to be located in the same city.

The main idea for what a Vulcan skyline was going to look like came from inspiration drawn from two favorite movies, Conan and Brazil.  I had just watched both films and thought that Vulcan skyscrapers could be based on heavy Swords standing on end.  I loved the ornate blades that Ron Cobb had drawn for Conan and really liked the idea of mixing his sword concepts with cathedral style long windows, domes, and passenger train cars connecting the blades.  Watching Brazil, there is a sequence of folks riding in these little box type trolly cars through the city, and those images stuck as an interesting building idea.  After all was drawn and approved, Eden did their magic and really came up with some awesome VFX shots.

For the Earth Embassy, it really had to stand out so it went into a bright white surface color with a lot of cool architectural lighting to punch it out from the sea of red and purple that made up the Vulcan palette.  Hard faceted  and angular lines would also make for a good contrast against the very curvy organic lines all around the Embassy.  This was a very fun episode to work on and sorry, but there were no new ships in this one to show, HAAA!

earth embassy

earth embassy

vulcan high command

vulcan high command

38 Responses to “vulcan architecture”

  1. 1 DeanneM
    October 8, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Of the print outs that you gave me, the Vulcan High Command has always been a favorite! I’ve spent some time enjoying the colors and shapes that reflect the Vulcan landscape, and who doesn’t appreciate a great sword interpretation!! 😀

    The first image is just fantastic, and now I’m gonna have to get an 11×17 print out of that one, too!! United Earth architecture overshadowed by the Vulcan City is a great representation of the relationship at that time. HA!

  2. 4 CaptainRickover
    October 8, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Cool work.

    It’s a sad thing, that the new team deside to change the Vulcan city-design so drastically for Star Trek XI. To be honest, I like your approach on that matter much more.

    PS: Some of the skyscrapers (the one with the landing plattforms) remind me a bit of Coruscant. Perhaps some vulcan designers survived and flet in to a galaxy far, far away?

    • 5 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 8:04 am

      those dog-gon intergalactic architects really covered a lot of space didn’t they!!! HAAA! I can’t believe how similar the looks are despite that it was all intentional!!! I am a huge fan of Doug Chiang’s and perhaps his inspiration fell upon me when I was drawing these buildings!!!! HAAA!

      • 6 johneaves
        October 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

        WOW that reminds me I don’t have a link to Doug’s stuff here on the blog!!! I’ll get to this matter of importance this afternoon

    • October 23, 2009 at 11:34 am

      I’m not entirely convinced that different parts of Vulcan cities aren’t going to follow different architectural approaches. No Earth city is ever all of a piece, design-wise, after all.

  3. 8 evil_genius_180
    October 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

    That series of episodes on Vulcan is a great series, probably my favorite 3-part series of the 4th season. I like that the Vulcans finally got on track to being more TOS-ish instead of the jerky prudes that they were in the earlier seasons. And I loved that we finally got to see a Vulcan city. I’d felt that was a long time coming, as we’d only seen glimpses of Vulcan and its architecture in the previous series and movies.

    Great work on the buildings. I was really happy when I watched those episodes and saw how the Vulcan capitol was designed. It definitely has a look all its own but, now that you mention it, I can see some Conan in there. 🙂 I also love how you stayed true to the Earth Starfleet buildings with the Earth Embassy, which really made it look alien against the Vulcan buildings. That was a great touch. 😀

    • 9 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

      Thanks Evil Genius!!! The show did do a lot at defining Vulcan and it was disturbingly shaky when the series started but was hitting some level and familiar ground by season 4

      • 10 evil_genius_180
        October 9, 2009 at 9:57 am

        I love the whole series but you guys really did a great job at making everything tie together better with TOS in season 4. It really hit its stride, IMO, just before it was canceled. It was so good that we’ll even forgive the powers-that-be for the series finale. 😉

  4. 11 Richard Knapp
    October 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Beautiful work – the next best thing to seeing some great John Eaves starships is seeing some great John Eaves architecture. You really gave the Vulcans a unique and consistent look and feel on Enterprise, in both their ships and their architecture. It was the first Star Trek series where the Vulcans really became a full fledged society.

    Thanks for posting these and I hope things are well with you,

  5. 13 Jamie Thomas
    October 8, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Absolutely beautiful work again John.
    I love how Enterprise took the Vulcan race and gave them new facets and gave us some insight into their history.
    Can you tell me what materials you use when drawing and colouring?

    • 14 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 7:59 am

      Thanks Jamie!!! I did a quick how to set of pictures for you yesterday and I’ll download and post them for you later!!!

      • 15 the bluesman
        October 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm


        As far as media I’m gonna say markers, colored pencils, tech pens and some guache or acrylic paint for the white highlights. Looks like the lens flare on the Vulcan City was added in Photoshop.

        I’ll look forward to your how to article.

  6. October 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I always loved the Earth Embassay on Vulcan, that entire sequence just looked so epic for me. The Archecture has such a Starfleet feel to it as well, it was instantly recognisable as a Federation (well, almost I suppose!) building. I really love how Enterprise helped to define Vulcan archectural styles as well, afterall, I knew vulcans didn’t all live under giant statues or on hte tops of mountaisn like the feature films would of orignally suggested! 🙂

    I really would of loved to see the Vulcan Compound of Earth, that could of been a great image.

    • 17 johneaves
      October 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      Enterprise really opened a lot of doors to fill gaps about things you always wondered about!!! I loved that the show spent so much time with defining Vulcan in so many ways. a compound on earth would have been awesome!!!

  7. October 8, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Conan the Barbarian and Brazil, there’s some inspired inspiration if I ever heard it, eh! Always loved the juxtaposition of design and color you came up with for this, John. 🙂

    Conan: The riddle of steel…?

    Thulsa Doom: Ahhhhhh, you know what is it, don’t you boy?

    Conan: YOU TOOK MY FATHER’S SWOR-ED!!! (Sword: spelled in Arnald-speak)

    Aaaaaguuuh, aaaaaaarrrguhaaa….


    • 19 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 7:57 am

      You Killled my PEEEE–PLE HAAAA! what an actor!!! HAAAA!

      • October 9, 2009 at 9:21 am

        Ut, John gets same disgruntled side-ways look from Arnold that he (as Conan) gave Subotai after Subotai told Conan that Crom lives underneath his god; the ever-lasting sky.


  8. October 8, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    One of the best blogs ever! Great stuff!

  9. 22 Syd Hughes
    October 8, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Fantastic episodes, fantastic design.

    The Vulcan High Command building always reminded me a bit like Padme’s apartment in Coruscant in the Star Wars prequels. Not a bad or good thing, just when I saw it that’s what I remembered.

    • 23 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

      It is so unintentionally crazy how many similarities there are between Vulcan and Coruscant!!! I hear it a lot and have to say they are almost the same city!!! Coruscant is defiantly more Deco in design and I guess Vulcan is more cathedral in approach!! HAAA!

  10. 24 the bluesman
    October 8, 2009 at 9:07 pm


    Thanks for putting up the art and telling us about how the Vulcan buildings were inspired.

    I haven’t met another artist or designer anywhere that hasn;t been influenced in soem way by Ron Cobb.

    The embassy kinda reminds me of Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois.

    • 25 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 7:54 am

      GOOD OL COBB!!! I love hearing that from your art travels about everyone having a little inspiration from such an awesome designer!

  11. 26 Freak
    October 9, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I love what you did with this city, really got a great look.
    I don’t much care for the version in the new film, it just lacking the style of your version.

    I love the Earth Embassay, such a cool desgin and really stand out form the rest of the Vulcan building. getting to see it in the epp was awersome. even after the attack it looked great.

  12. 28 CarlG
    October 9, 2009 at 6:40 am

    I love that first pic. The Earth Embassy, squatting and grey-blue among all those soaring red Vulcan skyscrapers like it was dropped there from orbit or something. 🙂

    What I really like are the pools on each side of the front walkway. There’s just something about them that perfectly symbolizes early Humanity’s sheer bloody-mindedness. I imagine there must have been some very interesting Vulcan-Human conversations while the Embassy was being built:

    Vulcan: So, you want… pools.

    Human: Yeah.

    Vulcan: Of water. On Vulcan.

    Human: Uh-huh.

    Vulcan: Large open areas of water. Out in the open.

    Human: Yup.

    Vulcan: Large open areas of water for purely decorative purposes. On Vulcan.

    Human: Yes, this is what we want.

    Vulcan: *T’facepalm*

    • 29 johneaves
      October 9, 2009 at 7:51 am

      HAAAA! your funny! and they sold the idea with a buttering of the Vulcans haunches!!! Hey Mr Vulcan even though our ugly building is in the middle of your city, these lovely pools will reflect the very essence of your great and powerful arrogance to anyone that comes up the long walkway!!!

    • 30 Seumas
      October 10, 2009 at 8:03 am

      That is just brilliant CarlG!

  13. October 10, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Great contrast between the Starfleet building and the surrounding Vulcan city. This is the one that got bombed, isn’t it? I seem to remember some really good CGI of all the damage.

    The scenes of Vulcan in Enterprise were amazing, but I did like the way it was depicted in the new movie as well. Could’ve done with a more reddish sky, rather than blue, but the skyscrapers that hung down like stalactites were just what the doctor ordered. I hadn’t seen anything like that before.

  14. October 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve always found it funny with the new film that people criticise the Vulcan scenes for having a blueish sky, I think some people forget that its not uncommon to have a purple, pink, orange sky her on Earth during Sunrise / sunset, so why in Star Trek a planet has to always have the exact same colour sky is beyond me 🙂

    I prefered the Vulcan scenes in Ent rather than the movie myself, but yeah, some of the architecture in the enw movie was pretty innovative 🙂

    • October 11, 2009 at 6:06 am

      It’s all about setting up a contrast between Vulcan and Earth’s skylines. Having a red sky in the middle of the day would have just been one extra element to establish that we were on an alien world, but I agree that in real life the sky would probably change colour a lot, and not really be red all the time.

  15. 36 Matt Boardman
    October 11, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I love the Vulcan architecture! It was very sweeping and grand, something very appropriate for this proud race (though isn’t pride illogical? :D) Brilliant work John! 🙂

  16. 37 Jay
    October 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Beautiful and inspired work, Lord Eaves, and always a pleasure to see a shout-out to the legend of the Great and Powerful COBB! He would sell Haga to a slayer such as you??

  17. October 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

    So which Vulcan city was this assumed to be for story purposes?

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October 2009

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