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Building Bedford Park In Minecraft

ExampleFantasyWorldDo your kids play Minecraft and would you like a constructive project to play?

As a new Bedford Park project for 2016 we are going to be working with a local tech-start - Chimni -  to encourage young people to engage with design, planning & construction issues in the borough. To do this we are recreating a Bedford Park in Minecraft, the online PC game that claims 100M global users.


Minecraft is normally used to create fantasy worlds which include sophisticated landscapes and buildings which players get to construct block by block - like an 'on-screen' version of Lego.   One of the most interesting features of the game is that it has no specific 'aim'. The players do not have to 'kill' each other or compete to 'win' something. The main concept is to use natural resources to build a shelter, collaboratively interacting with other players.  Even so, around the world, Mums' advice forums are packed with parents complaining their children are addicted to Minecraft.  But recently more serious and educational uses have started emerging.  The construction and planning industries in a particular, have started to see the appeal.

ae93e36534-craft-your-future-logo-smlThe Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has created a version of the game called ‘Craft your Future’ (see here for details).  This is a construction game aimed at 12-14 year olds in which students encounter a variety of problems that reflect construction challenges in cities today.  The CIOB said: “Minecraft, like Lego, has the capacity to inspire a new wave of construction professionals in an ever-increasing digital industry”.


The Ordnance Survey (OS), the UK Government's mapping agency, have also followed suit by creating an online map of the UK in a Minecraft world-shown in the picture on the right. This was a project run by young interns at the OS and they have now opened it up to the public by letting anyone have a copy of what they created (See here). They are encouraging software developers, and community groups like the BPRA, to download a copy and experiment with it.  

Now local Chiswick based tech start-up - Chimni - is aiming to use the OS Minecraft map to widen the educational possibilities even further and to use Minecraft to interest young people in the layout and planning issues in their own streets and neighbourhoods.

As part of their wider Chimni ‘Smart Suburb’ project, the Chimni team have taken a copy of the OS Minecraft map and used it to build an online version of ‘Chiswick in Minecraft’.  In its basic form the map doesn’t contain houses or other buildings, but they are opening it up to residents via links on their local Residents Association websites, so that local Minecraft players can access their own street and build copies their own houses.

Each residents association has been asked to appoint a ‘gatekeeper’ from among the young local residents who know the game. They will be responsible for distributing the access codes and allocating the correct ‘plots of land’ in the online map to the right Resident households.  We are currently recruiting this person for Bedford Park. They also need to be in charge of making sure their bit of the map is accurate and doesn’t need tidying or changing before letting the residents loose into it. We will be working alongside other local Residents Associations, so whoever gets to be 'gatekeeper' will be part of a team of local young people. 

MinecraftNormanShawHouseWhere possible, Chimni have been working with local architects to ensure that many of the more common house designs are pre-built in the Minecraft software. Starting with Bedford Park Residents Association (BPRA), these house designs are being made available to Residents who want to play.  The 6 most frequent houses in Bedford Park are currently being assembled as  free download file.

Bedford Park is not the first place to try this. The town of Stavanger in Norway is using Minecraft to involve young people in the design of their city (see here).

Over time, Bedford Park and the other participating Residents Associations will be working with the local authority planning departments to learn from the Stavanger experience to understand how the Minecraft model can be used in future planning activity.

More useful sites looking Minecraft being used in construction:

Ordnance Survey Minecraft: