On Monday 11 February we held our first Minecraft workshop in the Nairobi slum of Kibera. The project, which has been going for around a year, is a joint collaboration between UN-Habitat and Nairobi City Council and aims to upgrade the area around the Silanga sports field.
The area could be a perfect “public space” because it is used for so many different things by the people living and working around it. There is a school, a vegetable garden, a community hall, sports facilities, a market space and much more. With funding from Mojang and expertise from UN-Habitat, the space will be upgraded and the facilities improved.
The Silanga sports field
Over the past year we have held a number of workshops to get the views of the people who live and work in the area. The site is very interesting site because it has so many uses - but this sometimes means that compromises have to be agreed between different members of the community. The young man representing the football players may want to keep the football pitch as large as possible, while the older woman representing a disable people’s help group may want to ensure there is a broad and even path through the site, for example.
Through leading these workshops, the project architect had taken in the different views and developed plans for improving the site. In this workshop she was to present her plans to the community.
The plans are two-dimensional birds-eye architectural drawings which can be quite difficult to understand for anyone without architectural training. This is why we decided to use Minecraft to visualise the drawings in 3D.
And we think it went very well. Working with FyreUK, we were able to quickly build the model in Minecraft and use it to show the proposed improvement. From where I was sitting at the side of the room it was really clear that the mood in the room changed when the 3D model was presented - for the first time the participants could really understand what was in front of them. And some disagreements that had been going on for a while were also finally settled.
This is still early days for the project, but the early signs are good. We are now looking at developing a longer, more participatory modelling process that includes Minecraft from the start for our next public space projects.
Here are some photos from the event.
Presenting the Minecraft model to the participants
Community members and UN-Habitat staff look at the architect’s drawings
Phil from FyreUK flies around the Minecraft model
Discussion about the size of the football pitch