Public spaces have been a place of social interaction from the very early beginnings of the human civilization. Taksim Square in Istanbul, Tahrir Square in Cairo, Maidan Square in Kiev, Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires are among just a few common places around the world that have witnessed the most iconic events of the recent history.
If public spaces are so important to everyday life of citizens, whose responsibility is it to create and maintain them? Should citizens have a say in how they are designed?
UN-Habitat, a United Nations programme working towards a better urban future, partnered up with Mojang, a Swedish video game developer, and Microsoft to involve people— especially youth, women and slum dwellers— in urban design by using the videogame Minecraft. The innovative partnership, known as Block by Block, was set up in 2012 to support the UN-Habitat’s work with public spaces. Take a look at the video below to learn more about this innovative approach.
Block by Block first mobilizes a group of people living in an area that is slated to be transformed, and tasks them to redesign the space in Minecraft. Then, they hold discussions with urban planners, architects and policy makers from the municipal government, and present the designs to them. Through this process, participants get to explore ways to create fun and exciting spaces, improve their ICT skills and communication and interpersonal skills, and contribute toward creating a common place. At the end, the space is constructed with funding provided by Block by Block.
Want to learn more about the Block by Block’s projects around the world? Check out their website for more information.