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Minecraft to engage the community in transforming an open space at Al-Ghweirieh neighborhood in Zarqa, Jordan.
Under the Global public space programme and with the coordination of the Regional Public Space Programme for Arab states, UN-Habitat Regional office for Arab States, in cooperation with UN-Habitat Jordan and the Municipality of Zarqa organized the first Minecraft workshop in Zarqa, Jordan for the participatory design of an open space in Al-Ghweirieh neighborhood.
The MineCraft workshop was held as part of the participatory approach of the project to explore the needs of the community and their vision of the designated space.
Planning and structure of the workshop
The workshop was conducted over three days, from 3rd – 5th July 2018, which included an orientation to the criteria of good public space, the use of Minecraft as a design tool, and the features of the designated space.
UN-Habitat Minecraft workshop was the first to be conducted in the community center provided by Zarqa municipality and the first Minecraft workshop in Jordan. The laptops were provided by the Municipality through TAG foundation (Talal Abou Gazala foundation).
Participants attending the workshop were residents from the Zarqa with age groups varying between 23-50 years old, and the majority of participants being women. Most of the participants were active members of youth local councils, and some had an architectural background.
The workshop was conducted in Arabic to suit the local needs. Starting with an orientation with the workshop tools and concepts, the workshop provided the participants with a brief on the elements of public space design, followed by an interactive discussion on public space, its benefits and its main pillars. Minecraft was introduced as a tool for community engagement and participants were given time to get acquainted with the tool through performing simple tasks.
During the discussion the participants showed clear interest in proposing landscape design elements of the space that could enhance safety, inclusivity, and accessibility.
The second day included a field visit to the proposed space, where the participants identified the most prevailing issues and challenges and potential improvements.
Through a local community committee formulated by the municipality, Eng. Al-Zawahreh, Head of Social Development in Zarqa municipality, was able to present the points of view and concerns of the residents to the participants. The participants were divided into groups to suggest the most fitting solutions from their point of view and start building their models.
Representatives from TAG (Talal Abo Ghazal Group) and employees of GIZ Jordan Environment and climate portfolio- Green infrastructure programme (Mrs. Rawan Attour and Mr. Jakob Baum) joined one of the workshop’s sessions.
The Minecraft participatory design and the formation of a local community committee contributed to building the community’s sense of ownership and responsibility towards the developed public space and hence ensure the project’s sustainability.
The final day of the workshop focused on finalizing the models for presentation, highlighting the proposed solutions for the identified challenges. While some participants highlighted the need for utilities like bathrooms for distant visitors, other focused on the importance of the availability of shaded and green spaces. The presence of water features was also considered a priority, highlighting water scarcity challenges in Jordan.
Mr. Mohamed Al-Zawhreh, Head of Social Development in Zarqa municipality, stated that “We are so glad that UN-Habitat managed to provide the municipality with the license to use the Minecraft, we intend to use it to design a number of public spaces in Zarqa funded by the World Bank and the municipality itself.”
The workshop was wrapped up with closing speeches from Mr. Ali Soukr the Mayor of Zarqa, Mr. Wael Al-Ashhab- head of UN-Habitat Jordan and Yemen country offices and Eng. Al-Zawahreh, Head of Social Development, who emphasized the importance of using innovative tools to engage community members in designing public spaces and presented a certificate to the participants as acknowledgment for their active participation.