Back to Nature

A city on a cliff and a mysterious monolith

I grew up in the British countryside. We had rolling fields, deer in our back garden, and occasionally the whole place would smell like the back end of a cow. It was great!

Although... when you live in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, and you actually want to get to the places where your friends are, you take it for granted. Instead of the relaxing parts, all you can see is that you’re the only person under 50 in this whole village, and the bus into town only comes once a week : (

Now, I live in a city, and though the bus comes once every 10 minutes, I sometimes miss the green, vibrant wilderness that you just can’t get in a bustling metropolis.

Daniel Wöhlk’s build takes that beautiful wilderness to the next step. In the centre of an overgrown, lush jungle, filled with trailing vines and dangling leaves, stands a building - a temple, perhaps, or a palace - long abandoned and surrendered to nature.

It stands alone and apart from the rest of the town, built with pillars and orange-red roofs in an Ancient Romanesque style, which has trees and shrubs growing up from it as if no foot had trod there in hundreds of years.

It’s a little bit like a ghost city in a zombie movie - think I Am Legend, or even Wall-E - where trees grow from skyscrapers, and wild animals roam the streets that were once filled with pedestrians. It’s the city life turned back into the country life.

“I was not, knowingly, inspired by any movies,” Daniel admits. “I would mostly describe it as my own pure fantasy. One of the sources is strangely ancient Indian civilisations’ 'tower architecture' from around the Indus river valley area, as well as the Roman architecture style. The mix is quite a nice result.”

Pulling from multiple real-world sources, Daniel has managed to create something that makes you want to wander around on an archeological adventure, Lara Croft-style, despite his design being entirely made-up.

For one thing, it’s very hard to build something in the middle of a giant hole. “The terrain is inspired by a sinkhole, really. Sheer cliffs, outcroppings in a forested area.” The tower in the middle of Daniel’s build sits atop a perilous column of stone in the middle of a gigantic void - it’s no wonder this place is abandoned! Everyone probably fell into the hole : (

There is a story behind the tower, according to Daniel - a reason why it stands apart from the city. “I made the project deliberately contrasting the styles from the tower and the city,” he says. “A civilization in its dawn stumbles upon the ancient monolith of a tower, drawn to it by its magnificence and settling, almost cramming themselves into the little place on the ledges of the basin. They rule the area for hundreds of years while the monolith falls further into ruin.”

But although the tower is the clear focus of Daniel’s piece, the city itself has its own sense of simple grandeur. Built in a simple style, to contrast with the monolith, the city is made of only a handful of block types - “stone bricks, cracked stone bricks, and mossy stone bricks, basic stone, and bricks for the roofs,” says Daniel - and the style itself is mostly inspired by Roman buildings, “mixed with a little Greek and a bit of creative freedom.”

The build took “50 to 60 hours” in total to complete, which took place over the course of several months. Daniel also had two months of university exams, and a deadline that he set himself: finishing the project for MCBCon, a Minecraft build convention, which stopped taking submissions on June 1st - “the busiest point of my exam period!”

Despite all these challenges, Daniel managed to finish and submit his build in time, saying that time management was the most important thing he learned during the build. He actually admits that he doesn’t plan his builds before making them, because “planning too specifically will feel limiting to me, which will make me work slower.”

I guess flying by the seat of your pants is faster than walking!

Of course, Daniel might sound like he had a plan all along - having deadlines, a style of architecture, and a build centered around a tower - but he might not have meant for it to be such a large project. “The goal of the project was to make a fitting location for the tower,” he says. “Needless to say... it went overboard.”

He’s happy with the final result, though, and it means that we also get to see and explore his abandoned Romanesque town and mysterious monolith for ourselves. It’s all been worth it in the end, he admits.

“The view from the city looking towards the tower… it’s such a great view to have. Imagine seeing that every day.”

Renders by Hylke, GuildsMC, Limrk, Kryppt and Ryuh

Kate Gray
Written By
Kate Gray