Teenagers build Minecraft versions of MVRDV's Valley and DNB Bank Oslo
by Irene Start
Young students Pim de Boer (16) and Tim Andriessen (15) – in the digital world better known as 'Puntertje' and 'NotKruidnoot' – had never met in person. In spite of this they worked together on Minecraft versions of two major MVRDV projects. Their platform is Geocraft, a server on Minecraft that aims to create a blocky, digital version of the whole of the Netherlands, a place specially designed for young people to build and thus give them more spatial insight.
Pim: “Minecraft is a platform full of hidden worlds. You can use cubes as building blocks to determine what you make and do; you can fight, build, survive, whatever you like. Geocraft is the Dutch version, where all kinds of maps are uploaded so we can all create different famous Dutch buildings together.”
Why did Valley catch your eye?
Tim: “We were sort of done with crafting family houses, we sought a new thrill. We were looking for a more interesting challenge, and both of us like high-rise buildings.”
Pim: “I was already working on several other buildings of Zuidas, the business district of Amsterdam, and then I saw this new project by MVRDV for EDGE Technologies emerging. I thought it looked complicated and interesting, with lots of organic and semicircular shapes, and all the green. The challenge was to place the cubes in such a manner that it still looks rounded.”
How did you guys go about the work and corporate?
Pim: “We collected floor plans, and to be honest not everything turned out to be right with the final design; some versions we found online had roofs with solar panels, others did not. We gambled on the scale and size, via Google Earth and through the renders. Later we received the floor plans. Not everything is entirely correct, but we can live with that.”
How much time did it take?
Tim: “We worked on Valley for five weeks. Of course not fulltime, but it was quite a precise job, placing all those cubes on the virtual grid. MVRDV architect Gijs Rikken asked us to do another MVRDV project as well, the DNB Bank Oslo. We finished that one very quickly, in two days.”
Pim: “If we made a singular block for the DNB Bank-Minecraft, we'd have a row straight away just by copy and pasting. At Valley, we had to create each block, each pixel individually. Especially the Grotto, the inner carved out space was a challenge.”
Do you feel like a bit of an architect now (and do you want to be one)?
Pim: “I do want to study at Delft Technological University, but am not sure about architecture. I had the chance to spend a day at that university and experienced that there are so many other possibilities, I would like to keep an open mind. Because of Geocraft I'm now discovering a bit of design programs like Revit, I am mastering it a little bit by myself momentarily.”
Tim: “I'm only in the fourth year of high school, so a bit early to choose, I have still two years. But I certainly consider architecture as an interesting opportunity.”
What's your next project?
Pim: “Something from another architect, sorry: we are now working on the Heydar Aliyev Center, a 57,500 m2 building by Zaha Hadid in Baku, Azerbaijan. With lots of curves and sharp corners, that's going to be fun.”