Block by Block
Image by Block by Block
The Block by Block initiative began in 2012 with the idea of integrating the video game Minecraft into public space planning, to get community members -and particularly children- more involved.
Minecraft is easy to use, and people of all ages, backgrounds, and education levels can pick it up quickly. It’s an effective way to visualize a three-dimensional environment, in a format designed for rapid iteration and idea sharing. Minecraft helps neighbourhood residents model their surroundings, visualize possibilities, express ideas, drive consensus, and accelerate progress. In the informal settlement of Dandora, Nairobi, children developed plans for a “model court” and a “model street” to demonstrate how thoughtfully planned streetscapes (including superior building materials, planting of greenery, drainage, etc.) can essentially transform cities. Dozens of courts and streets throughout Dandora that were once neglected and dilapidated have been transformed into colourful places for community members to gather, relax, and play together.
Location Dandora, Nairobi, Kenya
Organisation Block by Block
Partner organisations UN-Habitat
Scale of catchment Neighbourhood
Built environment component Public space; Street
Beneficiary Children ages 5-12
INTERVENTION DESIGN LEARNINGS
Gaming techniques are particularly advantageous to enable and engage children’s participation.
Implementation learnings (1) When carefully incorporated, gaming programmes can enhance the practice of conventional urban design and planning. They can aid communication, proactively trigger interaction and participation, and facilitate understanding of spatial parameters, decision scenarios and consequences. (2) Communicating the proposed plans using 3D models instead of architectural drawings improves the participants’ level of understanding and engagement substantially.