14 August 2014-- UN-Habitat and partners recently brought together architects, planners, women leaders, youth, students, and government representatives in Ondo and Kogi States of Nigeria for a workshop on public space as well as to learn developing designs using the video game Minecraft. New designs were developed of a streets-scape leading to the 500 year old Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Akure (Ondo State) and the Obasanjo Park in Lokoja (Kogi State) in preparation for the centennial celebration in October 2014. With the support of UN-Habitat, the participants were able to use Minecraft to visualize the spaces and develop several models/scenarios which take into consideration accessibility and safety. UN-Habitat is promoting Minecraft as a participatory planning and design tool in public space projects. Minecraft is a popular 'sandbox' computer game, best imagined as a sort of 'digital Lego'. The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build structures out of textured cubes in a three-dimensional generated world. Creative mode enables gamers to easily create buildings similar to those produced by complex 3D modelling software, with the additional benefit of being able to construct structures together through a multiplayer setting. In the closing of the Minecraft workshop in Akure, the Ondo State Commissioner of Housing and Urban Development Mr. Bade Omoloja, championed the public space programme for the state as part of the state urban renewal programme. The Deputy Governor of Kogi State Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, opened the workshop in Lokoja by expressing the state government’s commitment to establish a Minecraft Centre where youth can share Minecraft and urban planning skills. Speaking at the Lokoja workshop, Mr. Oyebanji Oyeyinka, Chief Scientific Advisor, UN-Habitat explained that the Minecraft workshop is part of the public open spaces programme activities under the joint project between UN-Habitat and the two Nigerian states of Ondo and Kogi. “As cities grow and densify, access to well designed and pleasant public spaces is becoming increasingly important. Improving access to good public spaces on the part of less favoured urban residents is a powerful tool to improve equity in the city and combat discrimination,” Mr. Oyeyinka said. In a similar initiative, the staff of Ondo State Urban Info Centre were trained on the use of Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to effectively gather and processes the city’s most current urban indicators, statistics, conditions, and profiles.. The Urban Observatory Programme is an initiative under the UN-Habitat/Ondo State Socio-Economic and Urban Renewal Project that aims to improve the availability and accessibility of urban statistics to guide the state in its planning and policy making. The centre established in Akure will make it possible to monitor and evaluate urban conditions and trends in the state.