Community Resilience Social Responsibility

How United Nations use the Minecraft video game to design public spaces in Egypt

Who said nothing good could come out of video games? See how popular video game Minecraft plays an important role in urban resilience!

UN-Habitat in cooperation with Megawra (The Built Environment Collective-BEC) and Cairo governorate (Cairo Heritage Preservation General Administration) organized the first Minecraft workshop in Egypt for the participatory design of an open space in Al-Khalifa neighborhood in Cairo.

Al-Khalifa neighborhood in the heritage site of Islamic Cairo is one of Egypt’s most unique areas, with estimated population of 20,085 in an area of 25,3284 m2; it’s considered one of Cairo’s most dense areas, suffering from lack of public spaces and access to basic services particularly to women and children.

Minecraft is a game where you dig (mine) and build (craft) different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats to explore.

I love how we can put our ideas into the game and see it come to reality

Under the framework of UN-Habitat Regional Public Space Programme, and serving SDG11 and its target “By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities” UN-Habitat is partnering with Megawra and Cairo governorate to rehabilitate an open space of 3000 m2, on two phases, in Al-Khalifa.

An area which is currently used as a garbage dump and a hub for illicit activities will be converted into a heritage and environment park for the use of the residents of the neighbourhood.

The Khalifa project, receiving a grant of 100,000$ form the global public space programme and with the guidance of UN-Habitat’s videogame expert Eugenio Gastelum, is pioneering the use of the popular Minecraft video game for the first time in Egypt as a tool to engage the community in the design process of public spaces. Around 20 community members, mainly adolescents from both genders, participated in a 3 day design workshop. “This is the first Minecraft workshop to be held in Egypt” says Safa Ashoub, Public space expert at UN-Habitat regional office for Arab states, “We are hoping to build the capacities of adolescents to be able to understand and design their public spaces and to later on utilise this useful tool for their own development” She added.

Source: UN Habitat

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