The following is a republished account written by Kate Hedin, who recreated some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous projects on the popular video game platform, Minecraft. Her work is known as Wrightcraft. This was first published on the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
Learn more about Wright's textile block houses and how they were birthed in tragedy on "Artbound" S9 E1: That Far Corner - Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles.
I started with one of my favorite Wright buildings: the Robie House, in Chicago. I had visited the house in person several times, and even took one of the multi-hour in-depth tours, leaving me with a whole album of photos from my trip and a memory of being in the space. Next, I did a bit of research online. I found blueprints and floorplans of the house, as well as additional photos from angles and locations I didn’t have access to on my trip.
Now came the task of recreating this structure in Minecraft.
One of the biggest challenges of building in Minecraft exists in the very premise of the game: every item occupies a one cube unit of space — there are no curves, no diagonals and no angles other than right ones. Furthermore, there is also a rather limited color/texture palette to work with. Though initially this set of fixed variables might seem restrictive, I found this type of problem-solving puzzle quite exciting.
I knew I wanted the build to be as close to scale as possible (rather than up-scaling it to gain a finer granularity of detail) — I wanted to actually be able to walk around inside the house. Reviewing the blueprints of the house and Minecraft’s set of fixed variables, I decided on two elements to help set my starting reference point: Minecraft’s “door” block and the height of your character in-game. From there, I was able to lay out an outline and get a sense of scale, and then I built up from there. The Prairie Style of the Robie House lent itself quite well to the block-palette of Minecraft, and I was quite pleased with how my first build turned out.
I enjoyed the process and the outcome so much that it sent me down the rabbit hole of wanting to recreate more and more Wright buildings. So, just as I’ve added Wright buildings to my collection by visiting them over the years, I’ve now begun literally adding Wright buildings to my collection — all inside this virtual space.
Each house provides its own set of challenges and puzzles, especially with the limited palette of Minecraft. For me, that’s part of the fun: puzzling out how I can use these resources to create the desired effect.
To date, I have done builds of the Robie House (Chicago), Oak Park Home & Studio (Chicago), Hollyhock House (L.A.), Pope-Leighey House (DC), Darwin D. Martin Complex (Buffalo), the Ravine Bluffs Development Bridge (Glencoe, IL), and the Rookery atrium (Chicago), with plans to do many more.
To see more of these builds, including steps in the process, as well as side-by-side comparison photos (actual photos of the houses next to their Minecraft counterparts), follow Frank Lloyd Wrightcraft on its website, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Top Image: A Wrightcraft recreation of Frank Lloyd Wright's Home & Studio | Kate Hedin