United Nations uses Minecraft to design public spaces

United Nations initiative turns ordinary citizens into urban planners through a world-building videogame.

A United Nations initiative is using the computer game Minecraft to help citizens design public spaces in more than 25 developing countries. In 2012, UN-Habitat, the UN Programme for Sustainable Cities, teamed up with Mojang, makers of the popular world-building computer game, Dezeen reported. Minecraft is the world’s second best-selling videogame of all time, according to the report. In the game, players use textured cubes to build a virtual world. Called Block by Block, the UN project turned the game into a “community participation tool” in urban design, with a focus on poor communities, according to the website. The initiative also funds public space projects in the region and all over the world, in countries such as India, Nepal, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Mexico. Local residents in these countries attend workshops to learn how to build virtual landscapes in Minecraft, Dezeen reported. They then present their ideas to local governments, and eventually, they are turned into architectural drawings. For example, in Hanoi, a group of teenagers used Minecraft to come up with ideas to improve safety in their local neighbourhood. The initiative “aims to involve youth in the planning process in urban areas by giving them the opportunity to show planners and decision makers how they would like to see their cities in the future,” said Pontus Westerberg, coordinator of the initiative. “In Kenya where I live, more than 50 percent of the population is under 25, so finding ways to get young people involved in community space projects is crucial,” he said. Image from Block by Block