This is a topic that I have only been looking at when needed. However, the time has come to look at it in a city-wide and world-wide view. There is more to the buildings in your world than simply a place the characters interact in. They exude the people around them, the technology of the time (or past if appropriate), the culture, the religion, and individual personalities. An old building where carry remnants of the past all those that have come through their doors. New buildings show their architects and current owners personalities.
For this novel, I will be using modern/advanced technology and most of the buildings will reflect this. There will be some older buildings that have been updated but retain their past. I would like to incorporate some “cool” concepts in a way that will keep readers intrigued but not distract them from the actual story.
I am trying to decide if I will use a mansion or a castle for the central family in this story. On one hand, I am thinking a castle that this family has been gifted because they have been elevated to a peerage status. The castle is run down and on the out skirts of town. Since their rank was not hereditary, they are also allotted monies to re-establish the castle. As castles were known to do in our medieval times, it would house king or in this case the designated protector of that area and provide a refuge for the people.
On the other hand, I might use a mansion in the style of the American White House. It is the central hub where the “ruler” conducts business and the various rooms have historical meanings.
I haven’t decided if I want non-peerage citizens to live in tenements or have mix with some living in individual dwellings. The peerage will live in houses the size of your typical suburban home up to castles (or mansions depending on how I go with this).
Research will be my next step in this process but I am trying to balance it so that I am still doing more writing than research. It is a fine line until I work out certain aspects of the world because I don’t want to have to re-write everything I have written just to make something like a building make sense.
I would love to have some ideas tossed around in the comments to help gears get flowing on this problem. (Any idea that really gets me hooked on how a building should look will get an acknowledgement in the final book.)