Architecture of Neopia: Moltara
The architecture of Moltara is unique for three main reasons. First of all, it was borne out of pure practicality and scientific inquiry, secondly it has been shut off from the rest of Neopia for thousands of years and thus has remained unchanged, and finally it is able to withstand incredible temperature and pressure. Moltara is however, not the unified town under the Mayor as history books may tell us, in fact it has grown up into two distinct principalities. Both are located at the same depth of seven thousand feet beneath the surface. First and foremost, the township of Moltara (also referred to as the City of Moltara, but traditionally still called a town, given the historical town hall) is situated to the west, whilst to the east a system of caverns known as the Moltaran caves display a more ‘back to earth’ style of architecture.
The split from the original settlement represents a move away from modern steam technology and instead a profound interest in magic and naturalism. Starting first with the analysis of this region, we can see clearly an adaptation of the existing structural architecture of the cavern with little modification of the actual rock itself. Many of the caverns pre-existed the exterior rock carvings, such as the staircases and wall sconces, which are a later edition for practicalities sake. These small passages into the rock face itself now exist as shops, homes and meeting places for the inhabitants. Some choose to keep the interior true to the igneous rock, as the magma intended it, such includes Igneot’s Cavern, whilst it is a free standing rock sculpture carved from a misplaced boulder, still remains natural and unique on the interior. Others, such as the Arcanium for example, have remodelled their interior to suit the purpose of the building, and built many bookcases both free standing and built into the wall, as well as desks and spaces for study. There are less veins of the infamous Moltaran Obsidian rock in this region of Moltara, perhaps a result of it being closer to the Lava Rivers causing much of the rock to draw back into the heat and be melted down. This shows itself in form of a homogenous igneous rock structure. With exception of small items of furniture brought over from the Town of Moltara, such as an occasional cooking pot and abstract work of art, everything within this sector is igneous. There is also a concern however, that the proximity of this town to the lava core and its past history of instability that this region is under risk of becoming submerged into the lava river. The evidence for this presents itself in form of increasingly large and frequent cracks in the ground. Whilst these Moltarans enjoy them as central under floor heating, the town of Moltara is concerned at their lack of employing stabilising structural (possibly constructed from the more robust Obsidian instead) support.
The other side however lays the town, in direct contrast with the Moltaran Caves, the City of Moltara is a thriving, dynamic hub of order, science and industry. Much of the cavern in which it is based has been mined away, leaving a vast gaping space accommodating of thousands of inhabitants, and many open veins of obsidian sitting open with their treasures on view. Many of the buildings here are built to last, and in materials that will be unaffected by the immense heat and pressure of the landscape. Many of the structures are cast iron, steel, or brick and almost all are built with some moving parts powered by the incredibly strong lava flows and steam power this produces, be them pump valves or steam diffusers. The continuous working of these machine houses is down to skill of craftsmanship, as well as impeccably constructed cogs and gears, which do not traditionally get worn down as they are built by machines and are perfect fits down to the millimetre. Thus the exterior of many of these buildings are dirty and worn yet they are encasing true structures of exquisite design. The priority is to ensure the safety of Neopia’s core, not to be aesthetically pleasing to the passing tourist – and for this I admire Moltara’s beautifully practical architecture.
One buildings however stands out amongst the rest as an example of decorative practicality, and this is the Town Hall. The Town Hall is symbolic, as previously mentioned – Moltara is a city, and so a Town Hall is largely redundant. It does however serve as a tourist attraction, and I seldom pass the building without it being surrounded by Neopians eagerly videoing and photographing the spectacular hammer working away on the roof of the hall. On guided tours, you can also view the intricacies of the working system within, rather embellished and shinier than the rest of the town’s machine architecture. To the untrained eye however, it may look like this particular aspect of the architecture plays no important role. But this would be a mistake to assume, for Moltara combines practical with aesthetic and nothing in Moltara is there without a definite purpose. The town hall is situated centrally and thus has best access to the actual core of Neopia, with its long iron and steel pipes reaching the last few thousand meters, the Town Hall’s specific architecture is used to regulate and cool the extreme temperatures to enable the surrounding buildings and complex steam systems to operate without melting.
Unlike its cavernous counterpart, the City of Moltara does not run any risk of structural collapse, not least thanks to recent events of the discovery of Moltara, but most of all as a result of its strength and technical expertise. There is an analogy here to be made about industry and scientific precision versus mysticism and Moltaran magic – but the truth of the matter is that these two regions of Moltara are both outstanding in their very existence, but also that they do Neopia a service daily. We may not still be here today if it were not for these two great Cities. Thus their architecture, especially the practicality of it, is impeccable, and I would recommend Moltara to any passing visitor if nothing more than to pay respects.
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