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Architecturally Accurate Tower of London - Classic Norman Keep

Discussion in 'Community Creations' started by Ubiqanon, Mar 10, 2015.

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This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.
  1. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer

    So over the weekend I built the Tower of London - a 90 foot tall (not including towers,) 116, by 108 foot classic Norman Keep. I built it as close to the actual dimensions, using the architecture of the time, (reinforced Romanesque arches, columns, and vaulted ceilings, flat buttressing on the exterior walls) as the game currently allows.


    I researched it as heavily as I could using what was available on the net, combining several versions of the historical floor plans, along with historical written descriptions, and pictures that detailed specific areas.

    The tower's lower walls are about 18-20 feet thick, and they eventually taper to 11 feet, so I used 2-3 cubes at the base (2.5 meters = about 8 feet), and 1.5 at the top (by combining a cube with a wall.) On the top floor the wall contains an internal passage way that allows defenders to move to any location on the wall without entering any of the rooms in the keep, which is referred to as a "Gallery". The keep is effectively bisected into two primary sections - one a bit larger than the other (great hall), and the second slightly smaller section is further separated into two distinct sections (apartment & chapel), the smaller of the two being the Chapel of St John ( undercroft, croft, main floor & gallery). This 3 room plan repeats on every floor. The traditional floor plan is a s follows:

    Undercroft (Basement, Level 1)
    1. Great room: Storage
    2. Apartment: Guardroom, Record Keeping
    3. Chapel: Dungeon called "the little ease" - aka torture chamber.

    First Floor (Entrance, Level 2)
    1. Great room: Guards / Barracks (Partitions)
    2. Apartment: Constable of the Tower
    3. Chapel: Undercroft with small adjacent cell (speculatively uses as a prison for high value nobles or hostages.)

    Second Floor (3d Level)
    1. Great room: Banquet Hall
    2. Apartment: Royal Court
    3. Chapel: Main Floor

    Upper Floor (4th level)
    1. Great room: Council Chamber
    2. Apartment: Royal Apartment
    3. Chapel: Gallery

    Undercroft vaulting of the great hall w 17th century attached stone floor support. (Actually brick, not stone)

    Top Floor of the Great Hall with accurate ceiling support. (According to historians there were 18 wooden pillars / poles used to support the roof. The wooden vaulting supported the weight of three floors and the massive roof.


    The castle has undergone numerous revisions over the years, and the time frame I have chosen is somewhat of a hybrid of various eras. I chose to use a wooden platform for the approach, which is what would have been used for the first hundred or so years, but I did build the undercroft (basement) using the relatively recent 18th Century design, in which large attached brick pillars were built connecting to the existing walls to add better support to the floor and ultimately the roof. (I may go back and remove these.) The original Keep only had 3 floors, the fourth being added in the 15th century, and I have included that fourth floor in my design. From what I gather, the walls were built to their current height, but the original builders may have lacked either the materials or skill for vaulting required to support more than two supported floors and a roof initially. That said, the height of St John's Cathedral did reach the fourth story from the initial construction. (See below) I was not able to get much info on the ceiling / roof, apart from learning that they typically cut a hole in it to let smoke escape, (along with side ventalation). The modern roof is made of metal sheets, which I am sure the did not have for many years, so I made mine from wood beam, and stone for the Chapel.

    Orientation: South side = Riverside = Entrance Side.
    East side Chapel & Round tower = 'front' or most common picture.


    Northside = city side = least common picture.

    West side = 'backside' or 'longside'.

    The castle is a study in defensive military design. The entrance is on the second level, roughly 20 feet above the ground, accessible by way of a ramp that is open to missile attack (rocks included) from directly above. I have included a small wooden drawbridge at this entrance, which historians state was highly probable.


    From this floor, sometimes called the 'ground floor, the only access to the upper level is by way of the staircase in the round tower, which is directly opposite the entrance, and requires passage through both the large and medium sized rooms, as well as a forcing of a terrifically narrow approach in the stairway itself.

    The Round Tower Bottleneck - the only way up or down from the entrance floor:

    If the tower was breached, its clear that a handful of soldiers could have held this bottleneck position almost indefinitely. The remaining two towers that have internal stairs are accessible on this second floor, as well as the Chapel of St John.

    Side note- There is a second entrance that you will see in the current design, an entrance that accesses the Chapel above, and the floor below. It was unclear to me if this staircase / entrance was part of the original design, or built later. The Chapel was open to all the people that lived on the grounds, and as you have seen, accessing it required travel through 3 large rooms, some of which may have been used as private living quarters, which I gather at some point would have been an inconvenience for people living in them. My thinking is that after the castle walls were built and the risk military capture was somewhat reduced, this entrance allowed for direct access to the Chapel, such that visitors would not have to walk the length of the Keep to get there.

    The Chappel of St John, while small, was a considerable project, requiring significant stone vaulting and complex column placement. It consists of an undercroft, croft (including the infamous prison room used during the War of the Roses), main floor, and gallery. The most obvious limitation with regard to making this building as accurately as possible is the fact that it ended in a half circle, and this building was larger than anything the game can currently build in the round, so I was forced to use 45 degree angles. Further, there are no window blocks that work on 45 degree angle, so here are missing windows. To compensate for this, I doubled up the windows on the remaining sides. For the columns, I have two extra, because of slight scale mismatch. The game was remarkably close to scale actually. That said, at the end of the Chapel there is a single column, which should in fact be two, and the should be located where the torch stands are placed. These columns had to be load bearing, so I could not use the free form placement.

    From the floor:
    From the Gallery:
    Chapel croft with infamous prison cell (up left by second torch):


    A note on blocks used.

    I used some blocks that are only available with a mod that makes all current in-game blocks / items available, however, the tower should remain complete and unaltered regardless of whether you have this mod, as the items exist in all versions of the game - all the mod does is make them viewable / select-able in your menu.

    In particular I used a four column arched stone vault, the long 1/2 span arch, a center window block (two normal walls joined with a window in the center - which is highly unstable), and a series of blocks that allow for smaller block placement, including some small windows (the ones on the top floor above the entrance area.)

    Use of smaller window and small stone blocks to create accurate flat buttresses.

    I plan to post a furnished version, while the current version is unfurnished.

    What I was unable to confirm, or build due to block limitations:

    There is a well in the basement, but I was unable to note its exact location, and there is no block for a well currently.

    4 'Norman" fireplaces. These were mentioned as being found, but I was unable to find a plan that showed the exact locations.

    Privies: I think there are 5 or 6 all told, but I could only confirm the location of one, and speculate on the location of the other 2.

    I have added this to the Steam Workshop, so it is available to anyone in game who wants to check it out.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2015
  2. Ed Frost Senior Engineer

    this looks quite interresting and nice, good job mate
  3. Martinineter Senior Engineer

    This looks very nice, keep it up!
    Also, Newton would be proud (assuming you build it with SI on...)
  4. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer

    Unfortunately Arches dont really work in the game yet as they should.

    Also - the flat buttresses will explode, even though they are attached to solid blocks that support them and which they in turn support. In the real world this adds strength, but unfortunately in the game it creates weakness.

    I was considering suggesting that this be used as a case study on Structural Integrity. Everything build here absolutely should work, yet in some cases it does not.

    I am pretty sure the Chapel would completely explode if SI was on, but again that may be due to the fact that I am using some blocks that may not be completely configured for SI.
  5. Alfalfa Apprentice Engineer

    Wow, that is some mighty fine detailing, excellent job!

    I thought the texture tiling was all messed up on the hidden blocks, but it looks fine here. Is there any trick to that?
  6. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer

    When I built this I went ahead and actually placed every available block in the game to see what level of readiness they were at. Some were still in 'shadow shell' form - definitive shape w/ no texture or detail - grey black. But about 20% of them were usable - with texture and shape. BUT I dont think any of them were S.I. adjusted.

    Note- with the latest release on vaulted ceiling blocks, looks like i have some rework to do.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2015
  7. TheCursedJester Trainee Engineer

    The power level is too high! It must be contained!


    Heh, seriously though, this is an underrated piece which has some mighty fine detail work going on for it. The level of 1-1 comparisons and the studies of the London Tower to get it to this standard is magnificent! Not to mention the chapel inside, I love the arrangement of supports.

    Would've liked to see it work with SI on, but like you said its a bit... fidgety, at the moment, so I understand that not everything is doable.
  8. Ubiqanon Trainee Engineer


    Its available in the Steam Workshop as

    Tower of London (Keep) V1.2 Unfurnished
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