Standing Strong

Louis Fontanini tells us about his brilliant bridge build!

Since the dawn of time, man has stood on the edge of things, looking across at other, further away things, and thought to himself, “how do I get over there?” The answer, of course, is bridges: big bits of floor that stretch across things that are not floor.

It’s a genius idea, no? We’re able to cross rivers, oceans, and even other bridges, and we don’t even have to get our feet wet.

Minecraft builder and bridge lover Louis Fontanini, also known as TheDwarf, has created his own take on a Fortified Bridge - that’s a bridge with a tower on it, presumably full of guards who want to stop you from using the bridge. He found the design for the bridge on Pinterest, created by French freelance concept artist Guillaume Tavernier, and decided to try building it in Minecraft, complete with interior. “It was about a year since I first saw it,” says Louis, “and finally I got some free time, so I decided to build it!”

The bridge comes in two varieties: the regular Fortified Bridge, and the “Gondorian Version”, a bright-white variant that was built as part of a Lord of the Rings server. Gondor, which is the largest kingdom of Men in the Lord of the Rings world, needed a defensive perimeter to stop bad things like Orcs and hungry Hobbits getting in. This bridge did the trick - but Gondor is mostly built in white stone, so Louis turned his medieval stonework into a shining white beacon to match.

The bridge, like in real life, is constructed out of stone bricks, using a texture pack called Excalibur to make the blocks look more realistic. In fact, there’s a lot of realistic detail in this bridge build, from the kitted-out interiors that have places for the guards to sleep and eat, to the portcullis - the big gate that stops people from crossing the bridge - which actually works!

“I think my favourite detail is the portcullis machinery,” says Louis. Like a real portcullis, it slides up and down, preventing access to the watchtower – a detail that sets this build apart from most!

The building itself has a lot of interior detail, including storage, living quarters, and places where the guards who live there can be on watch over the bridge and the waters below. “I imagine it as a toll point near to the border of a fantasy kingdom,” says Louis, “or watching the river and the road for some hostile force.”

He suggests that a watchtower like this might have a way of contacting the local town if they spot some kind of threat - “like a pigeon,” he says. Doesn’t sound like much of a threat to you? My friend, you’ve clearly never gotten into a fight with a pigeon. Pigeons are hardcore.

There’s another hidden detail within the bridge - a secret escape tunnel! “The resistance should be epic,” Louis says. “The build itself is very defensive, and at the last moment, the surviving guard will flee into the secret tunnel to emerge at a safer place, only to observe the building on fire.” Oh dear!

Louis began his time in Minecraft by recreating another video game, Skyrim, which is set in a fantasy medieval realm called Tamriel, with dragons, snowy mountains, and dungeons filled with dangers. “I reproduced a lot of the dungeons and buildings around it,” says Louis. “Various big dwarven cities, and custom caverns and dungeons, and the whole Tamriel map.”

Fortified Bridge is one of the few builds Louis has done that isn’t set in, or inspired by, other video games - and after he finished, he went right back to doing that! “As you can imagine,” he says, “I’m actually working on various builds, Skyrim cities and dungeons, and dwarven stuff.” His current build is called Karak Gnol, an underground dwarven city based on Warhammer.

So now you can tell your parents that playing video games is actually just research for your art. Perfect!

Written by
Kate Gray