Architecture of Neopia: Maraqua
In perusing the many book shops of Neopia, what I failed to find was a comprehensive guide to Maraquan architecture. Perhaps a reason for this may be that the existing architectural tomes (Brightvale Architecture, Faerie Architecture etc.) are all found in their respective lands, and Maraqua has no such book shop! To write this article, I spent a great length of time in Maraqua, taking sketches, making notes and conferring with my mathematician friends on pressure's effect on architectural structure – after all, when analysing deep-sea architecture, gravity is not quite the issue it once was.
... You can understand why a lack of a book shop proved me such an issue. Where else could I spend my evening hours if not between the pages of a Maraquan Study Guide? It was a good job I brought my own copy. In fact, I found myself spending many an hour at Kelp- where, from their window seating I was able to enjoy the city's fine architecture in front of a delicious plate of Ocean Salad Delight.
Geographically speaking, New Maraqua is situated in open waters to the north-east of Mystery Island. Weather seems not to be such an issue for this underwater citadel, which is a good thing given the nearby dangerous Maraquan Circle- but all things considered, the structural engineers behind the reconstruction of this beauty have taken natural disaster such as monster waves and earthquakes into consideration by incorporating the foundations of its buildings into the surrounding coral. From where I write this, a local engineer has explained how Kelp's roots lay deep within the bedrock and is as sound as if we were sitting in rock. Coral's general lifespan can be up to several centuries, with such an organic city we can assume these structures will also last this long.
Aside from the coral, Maraqua is the only place in Neopia that produces Maractite – most commonly used in forging weaponry; it is also a key material in structural support, as it is a substance stronger than an iron girder. The most spectacular example of the harmony between these two structural elements is at the palace on the far north-western reaches beyond the petpet shop. This is an iconic landmark of Maraqua, and the first to be commissioned and reconstructed after the Curse of Maraqua plot by the King. Here the dome-shaped structure is bevelled at the edges and intricately carved with a hundred or so windows dotting the multiple floors. The main entrance is a little foreboding; but we get the impression of a well illuminated, reinforced, underwater chateau. This futuristic, pseudo-military style has three main hubs connected by Maractite walkways and is reflected ad finitum when considering the possibility of the innumerable floors which descend beneath the surface. What most draws me to the unique design of the Maraquan palace, however, linking back to the idea of it being a fortification, is how the watch towers have been implemented. It looks to me, as if it were a feat of Kiko engineering, who pay particular attention to the concept of glass domes – and a lack of arrow space pulls it away from a Meridellian fortress, suggests a new future of peace for Maraqua. It is watchful and protective over its town, but not expecting any trouble soon.
Another piece of architectural significance I noticed whilst studying in Maraqua was the recurrent concept of buildings made from shells. I present a third material commonly used in architectural design in Maraqua and unique to the place. Many of the inhabitants have told me that those who chose to build their houses and workplaces from existing shells found it easier than constructing from the coral itself; with the rapid urbanisation of the area of land that was to become New Maraqua, many simply could not afford to buy into the booming Maractite economy, and used existing materials presumably remnants of some prehistoric gigantic molluscs. Some of these buildings include the 'Collectable Sea Shell' shop, whose interior design is remarkable in the arrangement of shelves and floor space – but also 'Maraquan Petpets', which in visiting appeared much larger on the inside than the outside like some kind of menagerie, like the palace, built downwards into the bedrock.
As a whole, the architecture of New Maraqua is innovative and easily accessible but retains its rich history with an almost relic like atmosphere and a sense of permanence brought on by the watch towers and coral, as if it had always been there. But we have to remember, it was not always there. Once upon a time there was what we now call the Ruins of Maraqua. I could not end my visit to Maraqua without visiting the ruins, for there are far more beautiful gems in there than I think all the Maractite in the world could buy.
The Ruins of Maraqua are wreckage, but a wreckage of a proud citadel that existed long before I have; history books have fuddled the information – and there are few alive that can tell me about this land. I am no historian, but I can see there is much to be salvaged, not least of all in the architectural style that can tell us so much about what we know today. What I find remarkable about the architecture in the area that is now Old Maraqua is the stark difference between that in New. One might think that if coral, Maractite and old shells were the optimum material, it would have always been used- and not just in a modern context? But no, the material salvaged from the Ruins is almost entirely constructed from stone – stone not found anywhere near the site, presumably imported. In fact, as we know Maraqua is as old as Altador at least, I might be tempted to make the assumption the stone is the very same hewn from the perfectly flat quarry there.
Whilst the ruins are much less organically constructed than that of New Maraqua, I cannot rule out the possibility that it is simply a change of style. A modernist approach to architecture that captures nostalgia of the core values is seen in that of the new town; if we were to reconstruct the ruins to their former glory, we would see what they considered modernism of the time. Many examples of architecture such as this have intrinsic propaganda value used to bolster a regime... possibly even predating King Kelpbeard himself.
Thus this article has not only analysed the state of architecture in Maraqua, both the newer areas and old untouched ruins but it has also raised important questions regarding its history. Architecture can often be the foundations to a form of leadership, and what will this new benevolent Maraqua have in store after the new succession? My dear friend, only time will tell.