Airship Pirates Town – click any image for full size
Jamisson Burnstein recently drew my attention to a store called Airships Pirates Town, located high over the island of Hakone, and the work of へき (hekirekika Jinn). “Airship Pirates” is actually enough to get a quizzical eyebrow rising, but the build itself really has to be seen to be believed.
The “airships” in this case are not what you might think: they are neither dirigibles, nor are they (well, for the most part!) great galleons sung beneath gigantic gasbags or held aloft by whirling propellers. Rather, they are regular sailing vessels – a man of war and an armed Chinese junk – berthed against a stone quay, all of which just happen to be 3,500 metres in the air, with the quay attached to the most fantastical and delightful to the eye steampunk town which also extends outwards blow the great stone piers of the quay.
The landing point for this eye-catching build is a wooden dock, somewhat in need of repair, running out alongside the berthed Chinese junk. Wooden cranes sit idle alongside the dock while a zip line offers a rapid transfer down to the lower levels. However, it is likely to be the strange, piled-up charm of the town, reached by solid wooden stairs, will initially attract visitors on their arrival.
The town is an eclectic mix of buildings, some made of wood, others of brick, still others of wood-framed stone, all of random shapes and sometimes piled one on top of the other without regard – brick upon wood, for example. They are all clustered around one face of an enormous iron, steel and glass island from which huge chimneys and stacks rise and great pipes descend and around which little flying ships circle and even a great black locomotive chugs an endless circular journey from tunnel to wall.
Clinging to the sides of this strange place on platforms of wood or steel or brick stand huge, slowly turning wheels or creaking wooden windmills. Stairways and steps and ladders provide routes upwards, while individual buildings invite visitors inside. Most are shops, but some offer living and working space. Getting around can be confusing, so look out for the teleport hub at the top of the stone steps or for the TP signs scattered around and within the buildings. Climb high enough, and you’ll find another zip line waiting to carry you back down to the quay.
Nor are explorations restricted to the shops and various levels of the floating island: find the right teleport or the right entrance, and you can enter the heart of the iron island, where sit both the great generator which presumably keeps the place hovering in the sky, and also an Indiana Jones style course involving switching, swinging bridges, and dodging cogwheels – although the end of this journey is a little abrupt.
With a dragon keeping an eye on things, and the odd genuine flying boat (emphasis on boat!) either moored higher up or circling the sky and a lot packed into what is a very small area, not to mention the phenomenal steampunk look, Airship Pirates Town is well worth a visit and explore, standing as a wonderful demonstration of the creative whimsy possible in this digital world.
- Airship Pirates Town (Rated: General)