When you’re building in Minecraft, how big do you like to go? Some people like to craft small-scale, focusing on houses and gardens. Some people prefer to dream a little bigger, crafting towns. Some people like to dream even bigger than that, and create entire cities in our humble little block game. It doesn’t get much more ambitious than that!
It does. The Republic of Union Islands isn’t just a city of blocks – it’s an imaginary nation in an alternate universe, consisting of six separate states: Neueburg, Montaña, Orleans, Dramhail, Victoria, and Región Federal Nacional. All of these states have their own unique architectural features and designs, with influences from Europe, America, Asia, and the Pacific, creating a massive amount of variety throughout the nation. What’s even more impressive is that’s mostly the work of one builder from the Philippines – IGFredMcWaffe, or simply Frederick.
Like many other city builders, Frederick was inspired by Greenfield City and World of Keralis – gigantic city builds that made him want to create a city of his own. This project, known as ‘Invalid City’, was a small town that Frederick worked on (occasionally with friends, who helped him come up with building designs). The initial plan was to just build a city, and then a metropolis. But as construction kept going, Invalid City kept growing. Eventually, Frederick decided to expand it into a whole country!
“I wanted to have something to look back on when I get older,” Frederick explains, “and this project will remind me of all the fun experiences of building something that I’m passionate about. I also wanted to share this map for everyone to enjoy.”
Frederick has had an interest in architecture ever since he was in grade school, designing buildings in Google SketchUp. As he entered high school, his friends introduced him to Minecraft, which he quickly fell in love with. Fast forward to today, and Frederick has spent over six years working on his personal nation.
What makes it stand out compared to other similar builds is that his work includes more than blocks and architectural design – the Republic of Union Islands have its very own history and lore – something that he has has put a great deal of though into.
“At first, the build had no direction or goal,” says Frederick. “I just wanted to add a bunch of streets and structures in between them, until it became bigger, and so I wanted to add defining characteristics to each and every district, city, and municipality to give meaning to the architectural design choices that I made.”
“It really pays off to see everything you’ve worked hard for in the digital canvas that is Minecraft.”
As an example, the Ciudad Capital de Montaña, a region in Union Islands, has predominantly Spanish influences in its architecture. His lore is also based on historical events, such as the American Revolution. Given the time it took to do all that research and craft the build, it sounds like he must have worked night and day on the project!
“I’ve probably spent thousands and thousands of hours!” Frederick laughs. “It has been an ongoing process ever since. It just became more systematic as I had already envisioned how the final map would look like.”
When working on his nation, Frederick has three specific tools that he always use: WorldEdit, MCEdit, and World Painter. WorldEdit for designing buildings in-game, and MCEdit for creating schematics and angled structures. “These two tools combined are great to use for placing repetitive map details such as lamp and electrical posts, rooftop details, road signs, trees, and rows of houses.” he says. “World Painter on the other hand is used for the creation of realistic natural environments such as lakes, valleys, and mountain ranges.” This make the city as realistic as possible, while still being unmistakably made in Minecraft.
Frederick looks for design references from Google images, and some of the buildings found in Republic of Union Islands have been recreated entirely, such as the Manila Cathedral in the Philippines, the Cepsa tower in Spain, or the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. However, he also likes to incorporate different designs into a unique one. “Most of these designs are a combination of different designs, like the Montana Metropolitan Theatre, which is a combination of the Modern and Art Deco Architecture.”
You might think that the materials used to bring these structures to life would be something close to the real deal, like brick or concrete blocks. Wrong! Instead, Frederick’s go-to block is… wool! “It is probably the most important block that I’ve used, since it was the only block type that had different colours, until the latest updates where [different colours of] terracotta and concrete were added,” he explains. “Though I use bricks and wood planks mostly for older building designs.”
So after six years of work, and an entire nation in Minecraft crafting, Frederick must be finished with this build… right? Wrong again! “I expect to finish the build maybe after several years or more. I’ll probably have children, and the map will still be in development,” he laughs. I admire Frederik’s commitment! Maybe he’ll name some of his future children after the states he’s crafted up? Good luck at school, Dramhail!
In a build so large, it must be hard to pick a personal highlight, but Frederick does have one. “The DJML Arena is my favourite as it is one of the most complex designs that I have ever made. The design inspiration is based off of our logo for the record label that my roommates and I at university have founded.”
Wait wait wait… you had the time to build an entire nation in Minecraft and found a record label? Maybe we’ll interview Frederick on Minecraft.net again next year, where no doubt by then he’ll have built the entire Earth in Minecraft. Actual size.