A cyberpunk utopia with lots of neon
If movies from the 1950s are to be believed, the future will be filled with flying cars, an awful lot of silver fashion, and robots that take care of all our dirty work. If movies from the 2010s are to be believed, the future involves lots of superheroes having petty fights in abandoned airports.
But if Minecraft builder Linus, also known as Wonder, is to be believed: the future is beautiful, architectural, and really, really neon. Also, it has flying cars. That bit is still cool.
Providence is Wonder’s vision for humankind: a world far removed from the dystopia of movies like Ready Player One, where instead of towering shanty towns and skyscrapers made of mud and sadness, there is hope, and buildings that look like cool spaceships, of course. A world where you can never quite tell if what you’re seeing is that’s a block of apartments on the horizon, or a giant metal squid. A world where you can probably eat at a restaurant while sitting on a stool floating 50 feet above off the ground. A world that doesn’t exist… but could, some day, if we all eat our vegetables and do our homework on time.
“The main inspiration was Blade Runner 2049,” says Wonder, citing the neo-noir science fiction movie as what he was aiming for with the build - a “slightly colourful and hopefully different take on the cyberpunk theme,” with all the neon colours and blurred filters that come with it.
Providence is surprisingly Wonder’s first sci-fi build, although one of his other projects, To Valhalla, comes close: a bright, vibrant temple-like structure with a huge, mysterious portal that beckons the adventurous and curious. Unlike many other ambitious Minecraft builds, Wonder built Providence mostly by hand, with some help from Worldedit - an impressive feat for such a massive cityscape!
“My personal building process is a bit odd,” Wonder admits, “as I prefer not planning out anything and then fixing it and coming up with new things as I go along. I think it gives a rather interesting look, and unfortunately I'm not very good at planning my buildings.”
Even though that particular creative style sounds incredibly difficult and stressful, it wasn’t the most difficult part for the builder. “The design process took quite a while,” Wonder says, “and included very little planning and lots of changes here and there to get the colouring right.” Some elements of the build changed completely as the two months it took to make it went on: “the colour palette was something entirely different from the start, but as I went along I perfected it more and more, until I was happy with the outcome.”
But it wasn’t just the colouring that proved difficult. “ [The colouring was] probably the most ambitious,” says Wonder, “but as far as building goes, the left structure turned out to be quite a headache due to the fact that I wasn't happy with how it kept turning out.”
Given that the renders of Providence are inconsistent about which side the piece is viewed from, it’s not entirely clear whether Wonder struggled with the circular green building, or the one that looks more like an unfurling flower (which Wonder describes as “curved plant thingies”), but either way, both are detailed, dramatic, and eye-catching - even if they both look like they might cost millions in rent.
Given how much Wonder has mentioned the struggle with colour, you might not be surprised to find out that Providence was actually an attempt to learn to be better with that particular skill. “As far as goal or purpose goes, it was simply to develop my colouring a bit more,” Wonder says.
“Building in Minecraft has taught me about the different aspects of art, and how much thought goes into it. Things like depth, contrast, lighting and so on.” Many builders are constantly trying to improve their art, whether through pushing their boundaries and stepping outside of their comfort zone, or by focusing in on one particular feature, like Wonder has with Providence.
Maybe the future will one day be this beautiful, and maybe it won’t. But you don’t have to just dream: you, too, can build a city that you hope to see in 50 years, as long as technology hasn’t made eyes obsolete.
Just remember Wonder’s words of advice: “To an amateur builder I say this: Think about the context of what you build. Learning to integrate your builds into the surroundings is vital to making the build look unified.” Don’t just think about the apartments and office blocks - think about the transport, the plants, the satellite dishes, the roof gardens, the restaurants. Make your build into a world that feels alive, and maybe some day, it will be.