A house in modern society really has too many functions to list. First and foremost, however, a house serves as shelter from the elements. However, this is not the primary function of a house in Minecraft, as rain does not affect the player in any way. The main purpose of structures in Minecraft is similar, but unless creepers start falling from the sky, entirely different structurally. I am going to address some of the functions of houses in Minecraft, and how that affects their structure. I am also going to look at the structural requirements of buildings in the real world, and how they differ from the needs of Minecraft.
Let’s start with the basic requirements for a 100% safe house in Minecraft. This is entirely dependent on mob mechanics — that is, your structure just has to prevent entry for creepers, zombies, skeletons and spiders. The tall mobs (all save spiders) have the same physical restrictions as the player. This means making a small room with walls at least 2 blocks high will prevent entry, you don’t even need a roof. Spiders are a bit trickier, as they can climb walls, so you either need a roof, or make your walls 3 high with a 1 block lip extruding to prevent spiders. If you have a 5x6x3 structure with a lip and a bed in the center, you can even safely sleep through the night. Let’s say this is the most basic safe structure in game.
Here we have our 5x6x3 structure with no roof.
This obviously won’t do much good against the elements, as there is no protection overhead, and the lip becomes pointless outside of Minecraft with no threat of giant man-eating spiders. The basic needs of a non-virtual structure are essentially four walls and a roof overhead. This idea of a sort of pure simplistic architecture was most famously expounded on by Marc-Antoine Laugier all the way back in 1753 when he argued that architecture should consist of only the basic structural elements necessary to provide the inhabitant with shelter - the beam, the post and the roof. He argued that any embellishment was completely unnecessary and only took away from the inherent beauty of a basic structure. The basic necessities too, vary with region, however. In desert regions, one need of the structure is to protect from heat, meaning more airflow and lighter, reflective colors. In snowy regions, more insulation, pitched roofs, an entry room for removing wet/snowy clothes; in tornado-prone regions, basements are a necessity in earthquake prone regions, bricks are not as viable of a building material. The list goes on.
None of these concerns are warranted in Minecraft, and are not needed architecturally. The only reason to build houses in Minecraft with pitched roofs is to recreate architecture outside of a virtual space (recreate poorly mind you, as the game cannot reproduce diagonals). This is still a perfectly viable thing to do in the game, I mean who am I to say what you can and can’t build if you find it fun. I am however, arguing for an architecture with a more direct relation to the physics of the game.
The pitched roof at it’s finest.
I have found that working within the game mechanics when building produces far more interesting structures than reproductions of medieval cottages, or castles. This involves working in a grid, avoiding organic, rounded surfaces and retaining hard edges. It also opens up a whole new realm of physical impossibilities like floating structures, or building entirely out of glass. Underwater structures, or even utilizing water as a means of transportation down a flight of stairs or as a hidden doorway can add an interesting dynamic to a structure that would be impossible in the tangible world. This, I am arguing, is what makes Minecraft architecture incredible.