Reach For The Sky
ArchiGa’s Sky Gardens put the ‘culture’ in ‘horticulture’!
We do love a good Greek temple here at Minecraft HQ, and today’s build, ArchiGa’s Sky Gardens, really ticks that box. It’s the crossover we never knew we wanted: somewhere between a wedding cake and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon!
Built for a Skyscraper Contest on Planet Minecraft, Sky Gardens is a towering giant of classical Greek architecture, with a detailed interior and probably at least 100 pillars on the inside and outside. That’s a lot of pillars!
The blue and yellow colouring of Sky Gardens is inspired by the real-life Hanging Gardens, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, along with other long-lost structures like the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Colossus of Rhodes. Many people have tried to recreate the Gardens, in paintings, drawings, and poetry, imagining what it might have looked like when it still stood. It’s not even the first time the Gardens have appeared in Minecraft – it’s a popular project for people looking to show off their skills!
But ArchiGa’s Sky Gardens – also known as Caelestes Horti, or “Sky Gardens” in Latin – is not exactly the Hanging Gardens. Although it is inspired by the legendary building, it’s not an exact recreation, says ArchiGa, who describes it as an “idyllic place to be in contact with nature and art… a physical and mental escape from the daily world.”
Taking inspiration from the architecture of Naples, the west coast of Italy where Pompeii and Vesuvius can be found, ArchiGa decided to build something in a classical style. “I wanted to celebrate my territory,” says ArchiGa, who lives in the area. “It influenced not only my creativity and personality, but was also very important for the spread of Western culture.”
ArchiGa even visited the Neapolitan gardens, ranging from “monumental royal parks” to “small gardens with a breathtaking view of the sea”, learning about the colours, style, and symmetry of the buildings while he planned the Sky Gardens build.
By far the most challenging part of this colossal build wasn’t the height, or the symmetry, or even the gardens themselves – but the frescoes that can be found on the walls inside (a frescoe is a painting done rapidly in watercolour on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling).
“Frescoes were intended to ennoble the rooms where they are,” says ArchiGa. Each fresco was planned and built by hand. One is a mythological design, based on the work of Neapolitan Baroque painter Luca Giordano, and another is a map of the Gulf of Naples. It’s tricky to make detailed art with blocks, but ArchiGa definitely managed it!
The most impressive task that ArchiGa took on, though, is the attention he paid to the baffling rules of architectural mathematics. When making builds, he tries to stick to the principles of proportion, which ancient architects would use to build things according to specific ratios. He even wrote a blog about it! “I wanted to amaze people,” ArchiGa admits, “and I think I did it!” I think so, too!
What’s even more impressive is that ArchiGa didn’t even plan out the Sky Gardens before building it. “I directly built my idea in blocks, and there were a lot of attempts at colours, or shaping the elements and the structure itself.” He admits that this took a lot of time – at least three hours a day for 20-25 days. “Composing the frescoes and the gardens was slow and careful work,” he says, but it definitely paid off! The interior is just as impressive, if not more impressive, than the exterior, with fountains, pools, arches and ten statues representing the six architectural values as well as the four elements: water, fire, earth and air.
The only remaining question is: why don’t we have hanging gardens any more? Wouldn’t the world be a lot prettier if we knocked down a few buildings and replaced them with gigantic fountain-filled wonders? I know if I ever build a city, I’m hiring ArchiGa.
Renders by Palliotto, Tinctorium and Omegafoxx