A one-of-a-kind initiative launched by Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) and Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) – in collaboration with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) is encouraging children to build up Sharjah’s public realm as they play one of their favourite games ‘Minecraft’.
10-year old Muhaimin, a Grade 4 student at the International School of Creative Science, said: “We don’t have to wait to grow up before we can become designers and architects to realise our dreams. Through this exercise, I can explore the area and I can build play areas, a cycling track, an exercising spot and whatever I can imagine.”
Another Grade 3 student, 9-year old Lama said: “Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and building something. I have been playing with it for many years now. I want to build a fountain, a skating rink, have more signages and ramps for my friends with special needs and install more bins in my public space.”
Students expressed their delight at this initiative through a two-day workshop that was held on Tuesday and Wednesday for 50 participants from the International School of Creative Science. They were introduced to the initiative, its goals, and the importance of having their say in the design and development of public spaces.
A brainstorming session was held where students shared their thoughts and ideas of what they liked and disliked, and organized their priorities. Students were then divided in teams of three, and over the course of one and a half days, built and finalized models of public spaces in Sharjah using Minecraft. Students were seen designing fences and boundaries for greater safety, changing the landscape while revealing their priorities, pushing for greater green and shaded spaces, installing more lights and benches and smartly planning the management of solid waste.
Engaging community stakeholders in the initiative, and introducing relevant government entities to its goals, SUPC and SBF organized on Monday a full-day workshop for engineers, architects, urban planners, and professionals from Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Directorate of Public Works, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services and Child Safety Campaign.