Building a Community Hub in Lokoja

Building a Community Hub in Lokoja


A once vibrant community hub that had become a gathering place for street traders is given new life by using Minecraft to visualize what was possible.

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Building a Community Hub in Lokoja

Lokoja, Nigeria
Project type: Public square
Collaborators: UN-Habitat, Nigerian State Government
Region: Africa
Tags: accessibility, economic opportunity, cultural heritage, children and youth, sports and recreation, multigenerational use



Lokoja, Nigeria is an agricultural trade center located at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, near the capital city of Abuja. Home to more than 90,000 residents, it also hosts two universities.

In 2014, an exploratory mission went to Nigeria to select specific sites in need of upgrading. In Lokoja, the chosen site was Preparanda Square. Once a vibrant community hub with a restaurant, children’s playground, and local art, the park had deteriorated and was being used as a temporary location for street traders.

As cities grow and densify, access to well designed and pleasant public spaces is becoming increasingly important. Improving access to good public spaces on the part of less favored urban residents is a powerful tool to improve equity in the city and combat discrimination.
— Oyebanji Oyeyinka, UN-Habitat

Minecraft Model of Community-Designed Public Space, Lokoja, Nigeria

Building a Community Hub, Block by Block

In August 2014, a Block by Block Workshop was held to engage Lokoja residents in potential improvements to the park. Participants used Minecraft as a tool to help visualize and share their ideas of what Preparanda Square could become.

By 2015, the designs of the revitalized square were finalized and focused on four main areas: improving quality of life by improving access to public space, maintaining the recreational facilities of the square, providing dedicated spaces for youth and children, and creating job opportunities. Some of the key elements of the plan included converting the restaurant into a youth center, creating a new children’s play area, and adding vending stalls and a food court. The final plan also created open space for exhibitions and performances and for playing traditional Nigerian games.


The local government is now poised to carry out the proposed improvements as budget allows, using the designs crafted during the Block by Block Workshop.