One Sydney council is taking community engagement to new levels by tapping into children’s video game expertise and sharing its findings with a town in Sweden.
Liverpool City Council in Sydney and Harryda Municipality in Gothenburg, Sweden, have both been tasked with planning a sustainable community around a new airport.
Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport is expected to open by 2026; Landvetter Airport is already up and running, with the surrounding 650 hectares of land to be developed to support it.
“Minecraft is a program that young people particularly take to very easily and involving young people in planning is a really important thing.”
Keen to find innovative ways to involve the community, both councils are holding Minecraft competitions in schools, giving students the chance to build sustainable communities around their local airports. They will share their learning from the competitions with each other.
Minecraft is a video game that allows players to build with a variety of different blocks in a 3D generated world.
Involving the next generation in planning
Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller it is exciting for both councils to have the chance to plan the areas around their airports from the ground up, and Minecraft is a great way for children to get involved in the project.
“Minecraft is a program that young people particularly take to very easily and involving young people in planning is a really important thing,” she told Government News.
“Kids don’t often think about building an environment the way adults do so it’s an opportunity for them to unlock their creativity and explore all those elements. And because it’s a software package, they’re not restrained by anything.”
For the past two years Liverpool City Council has held Minecraft competitions to encourage primary school students to plan the area around Western Sydney International Airport.
It will now help Harryda in Sweden to run a similar competition with older students, with the councils to share notes and learnings on competition findings.
The two councils will also share results of research and investigations into ways to integrate their airports with the natural environment in order to create a low-carbon facility and high-quality public transport links.
Chairman of the Harryda Municipality executive committee Peter Vorberg said international collaboration will help both councils build innovative cities for the future.
“Partnering with Liverpool City Council, which is facing the same challenges, is a strategic decision, placing the project on a global level,” he said.
Mayor Waller said many children instinctively have the environment in mind when planning their airports using Minecraft.
“You see the use of recycling, you see the use of wind and solar. You see baggage being moved from point A to point B,” she said. “They look at the whole design of the airport space.
“All the concepts were so different. One group created an airport where everything was underground, apart from the actual landing strip. It would be difficult to create that but I thought the idea was fantastic.
“Through Minecraft they’re really learning how to use space – and to work together as a team.”
Western Sydney Airport, the group created to build and run Western Sydney International, was heavily involved in the competition, with its CEO Graham Millett on the judging panel. Mayor Waller hopes they may learn a thing or two from the children.
“They were really blown away with the different designs,” she said. “I think what we all can take away from the competitions was the importance of looking after our environment, that was very strong in all entries.”
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