Building Peace in Kosovo
Using the computer game Minecraft, Block by Block worked with 70 residents of Pristina, Kosovo, to transform a neglected public space in their city
Our project focused on the site of a former green market in Sunny Hill, one of Pristina’s largest and most populous neighborhoods. The site’s temporary market structures had been removed, leaving an abandoned, concrete-covered space that was rarely used by the community’s 4,000 residents.
In September 2015, more than 70 Pristina residents participated in a Block by Block Workshop to redesign the former Sunny Hill marketplace. After initial discussions on urban design and the importance of public space, the participants divided into small teams to model different solutions. The participants then co-created the final design on a multiplayer Minecraft server, based on the ideas generated by the teams. The designs were presented to a wide audience of urban professionals, including the mayor of Pristina. The final concept featured a range of facilities addressing the needs of various groups, including gardens, comfortable resting places, a playground, and Kosovo’s first skatepark.
In 2020, we revisited the site and spoke to many of the residents who were involved in the original workshop. Not only were they still using and caring for the public space which they had designed, but the project had inspired another public space development to the North of Pristina.
These projects have demonstrated the benefit of using games like Minecraft as a truly bottom-up participatory design process, which puts people – not technology – first. Throughout the workshop, we also saw residents from traditionally opposed ethnic groups come together to improve their urban environment.
The Block by Block Foundation
Municipality of Pristina
"A powerful, innovative and truly inclusive way to involve hard to reach communities in the design of their neighbourhoods."