Minecraft—the wildly popular video game that lets you build things out of virtual bricks—has emerged as a favorite of architects and enthusiasts eager to make everything from imaginary Brutalist buildings to miniature cities. But Su Yijun, a 22-year-old aspiring architect in Zhuhai, China, has created a true Minecraft marvel: a detailed replica of Beijing’s Forbidden City covering a site of 100 million blocks.
The virtual project had broken ground with the help of volunteers back in 2013, but when Su joined the group in 2014, they decided to start again from scratch. Su eventually became the project’s chief organizer, researching traditional Chinese architecture in order to perfectly replicate the palace’s nearly 1,000 buildings. He researched structure, decor, materials, and architectural history, even visiting the real-life site to learn details he couldn’t find elsewhere.
But this was tricky too: “Many areas are not open to the public,” Su told Sixth Tone. “And because of the exhibits, the interior decorations in the Palace Museum were not the same as how they originally appeared.”
Su worked with fellow Minecraft players to build the replica, but at one point their construction team was down to just him and another player. The effort, though, was worth it: “Through this, I hope to impart some knowledge about architectural aesthetics,” Su said, “and share my thoughts on architectural design.”