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Rivendell, or Imladris in its original Elvish tongue, is the realm of Elrond Half-Elven that was first described in The Hobbit and later expanded upon in The Lord of the Rings.

To convey the elegance of the elves, Alan Lee created Rivendell for the movies using art nouveau, which isn't often used in architecture. It's more associated with the artwork done by French painters at the turn of the 20th century, though its origins actually started a bit earlier.

Using art nouveau as architecture seems solely decorative and not used for practical uses, like defense. Then again, it could be both decorative and useful, like Gothic architecture.

So if Rivendell ever were to exist in real life, would art nouveau architecture be too decorative to use in a city, or would it be both ornate and practical? If the latter is possible, then how?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by StephenG, ZioByte, sphennings, Youstay Igo, Rekesoft Dec 18 '17 at 11:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ The picture has NOTHING to do with Tolkien. There are paintings of Rivendell by Tolkien: scv.bu.edu/~aarondf/Rivimages/rivjrrt2.jpg and scv.bu.edu/~aarondf/Rivimages/rivjrrt1.jpg No similarity at all - and Tolkien's version is far more practical. See for instance the problems with Wright's "Fallingwater": scv.bu.edu/~aarondf/Rivimages/rivjrrt1.jpg $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Dec 17 '17 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ As for a Rivendell in real life, I always thought it would look rather like the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Dec 17 '17 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Those drawings contain almost no architectural detail and geologists might take issue with the inconsistency in rock faces, undermining (pun?) any merit they have as "actual" documentation. $\endgroup$ – rek Dec 18 '17 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ How is this "opinion-based"? $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Dec 19 '17 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @rek: They may not contain much detail, but anything that claims to be Tolkien ought to be consistent with the information, written or drawn, which Tolkien supplied. Not something dreamed up by some "evileyed-black- handed- bowlegged-flinthearted-clawfingered-foulbellied- bloodthirsty, morimaitesincahonda, hoom, well, since you are hasty folk and their full name is as long as years of torment". that vermin of a movie director. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Dec 19 '17 at 3:59
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Art Nouveau is practical

Art Nouveau isn't just practical, it was one of the primary styles that new buildings were built in in the 1890-1910 time frame. Plenty of fin-de-siecle buildings were made in this style, but few of them were offical government buildings. Instead it dominated as a style for apartments, which are eminently practical and livable.

Riga, Latvia in particular has a wide variety of such buildings many designed by Mikhail Eisenstein. So there are examples of whole neighborhoods with such buildings.

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J.R.R. Tolkien actually did draw several drawings of the valley of Rivendell.

Here is a link to one:

http://askmiddlearth.tumblr.com/post/67803020886/tolkiens-scenery-artwork1

Elrond's house is drawn very small and thus is probably greatly oversimplified. From what we see of it there is little indication that if resembles the structures in the movies very much.

The art nouveau influenced style of the buildings in the Peter Jackson movies seems like a good and practical style for a building in the tropics. But as I remember them from the movies the buildings are too open to be practical in temperate regions such as Rivendell.

Kingledion's answer may say that art nouveau is practical, but in temperate regions all practical buildings, including art nouveau style buildings, are much more enclosed for temperature control than the open buildings in the movie version of Rivendell.

Elves may be able to endure temperature extremes much better than humans, but since Elrond often has many non elf guests, it would be inhospitable for him to not provide guest quarters more suited for temperature control. Thus I consider Rivendell in the movies impractical for its climate.

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    $\begingroup$ As a perhaps only slightly related comment to this off topic answer, in my first reading of The Hobbit (way before the recent movies), I pictured Rivendale as simply a large house up against a cliff not too far off a trail Thorin and Co were hiking along. $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Dec 18 '17 at 18:31

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