Designing ideal cities

Case study
Talking about
Using technology to design the cities of the future

When planning infrastructure change, it can be hard to open our minds to the true potential for towns and cities in the future. Often, we are held back by our knowledge of how travel, energy or communication systems work at the present moment in time. In collaboration with a not-for-profit organisation, we have been giving our partners the tools to describe how cities can be designed to meet their needs.

Members of the public were able to design their ideal environments in Minecraft, a computer game in which users build worlds using different types of blocks. We combined the most popular ideas into a single city, called  Newtopia, and gave our participants the ability to ‘fly’ through the city and explore it further using virtual reality.

The project provided valuable data about what people want from infrastructure development, and this approach enabled informed city and urban planning. It also allowed us to understand how these methods might be used to involve the public in different types of decision making about their built environments.