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The People Building a Virtual Vietnam in the Pixelated World of Minecraft

Minecraft is now a modern classic world-building game allowing players to construct elaborate buildings using isometric cubes. Thanks to this endless stream of materials, one can theoretically build anything in the game world if they have enough patience and attention to details.

A group of Vietnamese Minecrafters called Team Fuho have embarked on the Happy Vietnam project, which seeks to reconstruct a number of famous local landmarks in the game — including but not limited to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Vietnam National Assembly, Noi Bai International Airport. After three years hard at work, the team has finished 2,000 buildings of varying sizes, a figure that “even [Team Fuho] can’t believe we could achieve,” as shared by member Hoàng Đạt.

Ba Đình Square.

At the start, Team Fuho only comprised one member and founder Hoàng Đạt. He then opened a server to welcome more players to participate in his project. Their labor of love quickly transcended the initial goal of just building for fun, so they agreed to form Team Fuho to join forces in building bigger projects. From just five members, the collective now features 16 bricklayers.

According to Đạt, the story behind the name is quite simple: it’s a phonetic approximation of the Vietnamese work “phụ hồ,” meaning construction workers. “If ‘phụ hồ’ build housed in the real world, ‘Fuho’ constructs things in the virtual world,” Đạt explained.

Presidential Palace.

National Assembly.

In the beginning, Team Fuho only planned to create new houses and cities in game, but after a while, the members aspired to be a part of something more meaningful: “How about recreating the most special things about Vietnam? This is also a great way to promote the nation’s image. So, we disassembled the custom builds and restarted once again with Happy Vietnam.”

Most of the time, Team Fuho follows four main phases with every new project: first, find out as much as possible about the geographical location, area, and real-life look of the landmark. Second, they build a crude foundation according to a ratio so that it scales as accurately as possible. Then, they begin putting together the basic structure and the raw form of architectural features. Lastly, it comes time for decoration and landscaping.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Temple of Literature.

Depending on the scope of the project and what kind of reference materials they can find, each recreation can take from a few hours to a few months to complete. Veteran builders take the lead on more complex parts of the structure, while others help out with supporting features and decoration.

Minecraft places a maximum limit of 255 in height or 320 blocks, depending on the game version. Therefore, for major projects, the team has to scale down the building. The Landmark building, for example, was recreated at 1:4 size with a reduced number of stories and height of each story. “Nonetheless, we try our best to retain the exterior and interior as much as possible,” he said.

“Even then, for some buildings, there are very few photos or the photos are too old, so we struggled in remaking them. In cases where the reference documents are vague, we had to make do with a little bit of imagination,” the team explained.

Ngọc Sơn Temple.

Đoan Môn Gate.

In the universe of “Happy Vietnam,” the Noi Bai International Airport is the most detailed and elaborate structure. The Minecraft version features an international terminal, a domestic terminal, an air traffic control tower, runways, hangars, and more. It took the collective three years to finish building the airport.

At the moment, most buildings are replicas of those in northern Vietnam, but the team is slowly including more architectural icons from the central, northwestern, and southern regions as well. Huế’s Imperial City is an example of something they’re working on right now.

Nội Bài Airport.

HCMC City Hall.

Readers interested in finding out more about Happy Vietnam or joining the team can find more info via this link.

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