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Man Builds Diagon Alley Replica in His Driveway

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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To celebrate Halloween, a man in Seattle has constructed a replica of Diagon Alley—the fictitious shopping area of Harry Potter fame—in his driveway, much to the appreciation of his kids as well as neighbors and passersby.

According to GeekWire, Jon Chambers, a local tech veteran, has always wanted to do something massive for Halloween or Christmas, and in the spirit of the spooky season, along with his daughter's interest in Harry Potter, the choice was obvious.

“I was born the day before Halloween, and October is like my power month. So I decided to quit my job and focus on this crazy thing,” Chambers said.

Harry Potter Halloween

Chambers has consistently worked for a variety of startups, the most recent in which he served as creative director for mobile app company Ubermind, as well as director of design at OpenCar. Shortly after OpenCar was acquired by INIRX, a Wahington-based traffic analytics company, Chambers stepped away from the job.“Really what I love to do is build products in that startup environment. So this is kind of a creative refresh project for me before I start my new thing,” Chambers said.

This opened the door to the Diagon Alley project, the planning for which started four to six months before the Halloween season even began.

Drawing from a personal background that includes a handful of contracting jobs and dabbling in illustration, Chambers threw his knowhow together to create something fun.

With the Diagon Alley project, he planned for the creation of six iconic storefronts out of the 30 total: Eeylops Owl Emporium, Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Magical Menagerie, Flourish and Blotts bookshop and Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.

Sam Howzit, CC-SA-BY 2.0, via Flickr
The dragon atop the fictional Gringotts Bank in DIagon Alley is seen at Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

Chambers also planned to create a facade of Gringotts Bank in front of the garage, if time allowed.

He says the neighbors are supportive of the project, going so far as to donate odd bits of lumber, spare cans of paint and their time to help with construction. 

Fiction Brought to Life

For each individual shop window, Chambers created digital paintings that show a different perspective within. He laminates each, then puts them on the structure and puts muntins overtop. He also does his own 3-D printing with the LulzBot 3-D printer, which allows him to create props such as lanterns and corbels.The facades themselves are made of wood.

Friends who have worked in Hollywood and show production will be assisting with costuming the actors for Halloween night, as well as helping with lighting.

Chambers himself plans on acting as Hagrid, the groundkeeper of Hogwarts, with one daughter dressing up as the series' Ginny Weasley.

Chambers plans on keeping the installation open until Christmas, and noted that any monetary support the installation receives will be donated.


Tagged categories: Building facades; Color + Design; Design build

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