Block by Block is an urban planning game allowing people to participate in the reconstruction process of their own neighborhoods through playing Minecraft. Working in partnership with UN Habitat, the gaming company behind Mojang invites citizens to enter Minecraft servers and modify their own neighborhood and visualize it on screen.
Participatory online platforms and visual tools such as Block by Block are lowering the barriers to participation and empowering citizens to design their communities. The game allows citizens to submit their own urban planning ideas without necessarily having architectural training, and can provide the groundwork for political decisions. The first Block by Block site, in Nairobi, Kenya, is already in the planning phase. These systems facilitate an open dialogue between city agencies and the people they serve, establishing a structured process for collaboration and encouraging a higher level of participation at the civic level. Similarly, the game SimCity from EA/Maxis allows players to build their dream cities however they want in a constantly online world, and interact in real time with the neighboring cities of other gamers.
A recent project from Frog Design also reflects this trend of crowd planned design. The Collective Action Toolkit is a package of resources and activities that enable groups of people anywhere to organize, build trust, and collaboratively create solutions for problems impacting their community. Offered as a free download, the toolkit is designed to harness the benefits of group action and the power of open sharing.
By seeking input throughout the development process, these crowd-planned systems help ensure greater transparency and buy-in that ultimately results in an end solution that meets the actual needs of the population.
Over the next 6 months, PSFK and a team of experts imagining the future of a city will be asking you what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Tweet us your ideas using the hashtag of the week and view all the submissions at the MyIdealCity site.