Virtual reality: How Minecraft could help shape the future of one town
A virtual online gaming world played by millions of people across the globe could soon help to shape the future buildings and infrastructure of a Mid Wales town.
Minecraft is a game normally used by online gamers to shape their own virtual worlds, however Hughes Architects is planning to use the game to plan the future of Newtown.
Discussions have been held with Newtown Town Council and NPTC Group's college to develop a virtual town where ideas can be tested out virtually to help shape its physical future.
Architect Doug Hughes has seen the idea used by other towns, and believes it will be a great way to get youngsters engaged in architecture and planning.
He said: "We’d seen and discussed a project with Brecon Beacons National Park Authority where they worked with schoolchildren in Hay-on-Wye to build a virtual town, allowing the young people to help shape ideas and provide an insight for planners.
“While it might sound a bit crazy, Minecraft is a great platform on which to engage with young people and others in the local community to test ideas and get people involved in architecture and planning.”
The firm has given presentations to the local council, and is currently building a virtual Newtown, mapping all main town centre buildings and roads.
Mr Hughes also hopes the scheme could be used by Powys County Council, Welsh Government and private developers to develop policy and actual projects.
Students from Newtown NPTC College will soon be able to develop and test ideas on the platform, and Mr Hughes believes with the town's new bypass almost complete, it is a great time for people to get an insight into how the town could develop.
He added: "They will be able to develop new buildings, recreation areas, roads and housing to see how they fit in with the existing environment and infrastructure. We hope these ideas could, in part, lead to future ideas for developing the town as part of plans by private developers, Powys County Council and others.
“We’re just a year away from having the town’s bypass opened and this is a great way to gain insight into how our town could develop through the ideas and eyes of young people and others in our community with something that’s engaging and exciting.
“In addition to helping develop ideas for the future building environment of Newtown we hope it’ll also get more people engaged in the future of Newtown."