Once every 20 years, United Nations host a Habitat conference. Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016.

With focus areas like sustainability, safety, resilience, inclusion and citizen participation, the conference attracts politicians, professionals and enthusiast from all over the world.


On Thursday 20 (8-9 AM, local Quito time), attendees of Habitat III have the opportunity to experience the panel discussion “Using Minecraft for Community Participation in Public Space Design”, where representatives from UN Habitat, Mojang, Microsoft and locals from Kosovo, Peru and India will present work done by the Block by Block programme.

Block by Block uses the computer game Minecraft to involve citizens in urban planning in projects across the globe.

“At UN-Habitat, we’ve been using Minecraft as a community participation tool in the design of public spaces all over the world. We think it’s a great tool for engaging citizens, particularly normally hard to reach groups such as youth, women and slum dwellers in urban design.”

Pontus Westerberg, Digital Projects Officer, Urban Planning and Design Branch, UN Habitat

In GeoBoxers we create Minecraft worlds to be used for education and citizen participation in urban design and planning. Based on all available GIS and geospatial data we make Minecraft worlds that are geo-referenced and true to scale. We include all available elements in the data like roads, buildings, hedges and fences, railroad tracks, underground metro lines, vegetation etc.

Below is shown an example from the city centre of Quito. GIS data used are from OpenStreetMap, which is crowdsourced mapping covering the whole globe.


Left: Part of Quito as registered in OpenStreetMap. Right: Map elements picked to be used in the Minecraft model. Data: © OpenStreetMap contributors

An overview of the Quito area in Minecraft. Not all buildings are registered in OpenStreetMap, and most buildings lack height information. The area is shown in a flat version without terrain heights.



Habitat III
Block by Block