High Rise Society

A city of crystal skyscrapers!

Over 40 glittering buildings reaching upwards – that’s the vision of 8279531640 (no, I haven’t fallen asleep on the number part of my keyboard - 8279531640 is his username), who’s dedicated to building a metropolis from dozens of soaring skyscrapers. To build these in real life would probably cost 8279531640 squillion dollars - so good thing he used Minecraft instead, eh?

So far, he’s put together 16 (count ‘em!) quartz towers, and although each one is unique, they’ve still been carefully designed to match the others stylistically. Round or pointed, decorative or plain; they still have the same white and blue colour scheme and meticulous attention to detail.

It’s hard to pick a favourite - maybe the shell-like spiral of Tower 8, or the stream of bubbles that seems to trickle up Tower 14. But then there’s Tower 3, a whole cruise ship just planted in the ground! Putting together a whole city of these imaginative buildings is bound to be a spectacle.

“I always thought that city and skyscraper projects were the most impressive,” 8279531640 told me, “so those were my early inspirations. Ideas for the individual buildings can come from anywhere: real life buildings, artworks, or just my daily observations.”

His course from inspiration to completed tower is very methodical. “I always start the building process with pencil drawings. I make a lot of rough drawings on scrap paper, and any design I like is moved into a notebook. Some designs are then put together into a complete building.”

“The second step is to make scale drawings in Microsoft Paint, to determine the dimensions and details of the building. This is the most important step as it is much easier to make changes in Paint than in game. The last step is to use the MS Paint drawing as a reference to place blocks. In most buildings I start by completing a single floor and then copying it.”

He also says special credit goes to the creators of MCEdit for making his builds possible. It’s a tool that many builders use to create their incredible art: allowing them to “paint” large areas with brushes instead of placing individual blocks; copy and paste sections (which is what 8279531640 does with each floor of his buildings); and much more. “It is a very important tool to me personally, and I believe it has great importance to Minecraft's creative community. It saves huge amounts of time,” he tells me. He’s right; lots of the builders we feature here use the programme, so thanks MCEdit!

But even with the right tools, it takes a lot of work to create these incredible skyscrapers. “It can vary greatly and I’ve never timed it exactly, but I estimate one building takes about eight hours on average.”

Despite the many towers that he’s built, 8279531640 looks back fondly on his very first. Tower 1 is a round building cut into four pieces, each connected by glass walkways (don’t look down!). The plants and fountain in the entrance are a nice touch too.

“To me it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and is where my idea of building a city stems from. It took a very long time to complete, saw a lot of design changes, and is where I learned a lot of building techniques, so it feels special to me.”

But he’s also learned more as he’s progressed towards a full city. “Originally I tried to create fairly realistic buildings, but over time my ideas changed. Eventually I decided to ignore limitations that may exist in real life such as structural integrity.” Real architects, please don’t do that.

He told me that, even though he doesn’t have much knowledge of physics, he can see some aspects that would be unrealistic. “For example, the hexagonal extensions on Tower 14 have barely any structural support,” he pointed out. “I think they would collapse under their own weight if physics were applied.”

“Another way some of my buildings are unrealistic is their use of space,” he tells me, giving the example of Tower 5. Because of its pyramid shape, it has a low amount of actual living area compared to how much ground it takes up. But looking cool is more important than being efficient thanks to the freedom of Minecraft!

The same goes for the city that 8279531640 eventually wants to build: “Once I place the buildings onto the map, they will have a fair amount of empty space between them, unlike real life cities.”

“Most of my buildings would probably be impractical on Earth but I didn’t want any limitations in a game with near infinite possibilities,” he summarises. It makes sense - after all, it was these possibilities that attracted him to Minecraft in the first place. “I started playing after seeing a friend play. Creative mode has always been the most exciting to me because of the almost limitless potential.”

So keep an eye out for more and more quartz towers sprouting up until, eventually, 8279531640’s colossal cyan city is complete!

Jay Castello
Written By
Jay Castello