Building a Youth-Designed Summer Camp in Seferihisar

Building a Youth-Designed Summer Camp in Seferihisar

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Block by Block Workshops in Turkey empower youth to design their own summer camp, incorporating imaginative ideas for recreation and accessibility.

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Building a Youth-Designed Summer Camp in Seferihisar

In the Seferihisar Children Municipality, kids get to elect a Child Mayor—and design their own summer camp using Minecraft!

Background

In the Aegean region of Turkey, Seferihisar serves as the country’s first “slow city.” The name indicates the city’s emphasis on clean energy, the Slow Food movement, and a commitment to preserving local culture and historical sites. The Swedish Institute and UN-Habitat chose the city, home to nearly 44,000 people and growing, as the focus for the “Equal Spaces: Creative, Smart, Inclusive” initiative.

The site selected for public intervention sits in the unique Seferihisar Children Municipality (Seferihisar Belediyesi), where kids elect a Child Mayor bi-annually and are encouraged to exercise their civic rights. The municipality chose a large plot of waterfront land to redesign, using Minecraft to catalyze community participation. A 3,500-square-meter plot with direct access to the beach and a solitary road connecting it to the nearest city was designated to become a summer camp for kids.

We thought the Block by Block Methodology could not only contribute to the development and engagement of the community in Seferihisar, but also broaden the discussion on creative, smart, and inclusive cities.
— Christelle Lahoud, UN-Habitat

Building a Youth-Designed Summer Camp, Block by Block

In March 2019, a group of 17 young participants, ages 12 to 15, gathered for a two-day Block by Block Workshop. The youth were joined by local architects and academics to contribute guidance and best practices. The children broke into seven groups and worked together to brainstorm ideas for their summer camp. Each group illustrated its ideas in Minecraft, including dreams of underground tunnels, a giant chess board, bike lanes, and even a roller coaster.

Youth are very seldom involved in the processes of planning and talking about their cities….What we do is actually give youth a language that they understand better than the local authorities. It gives them more strength in the dialog.
— Thomas Melin, Block by Block

The groups shared their presentations with the audience—key themes included comfortable seating, recreational areas, a volleyball court, signage and pathways, and beachfront upgrades. The Minecraft models also demonstrated widespread desire for shower facilities, nighttime lighting, and commercial food stands. To make the space accessible, teams proposed wheelchair ramps and paved pathways throughout the summer camp.

Progress

After the workshop, the contributing architects reviewed the group presentations to create a final proposal. The project was then translated into a design by Herkes İçin Mimarlık Derneği and members of Cut Paper, with the supervision of the architect Evren Başbuğ and representatives of the Seferihisar Municipality. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2019.

Aerial view of the final Minecraft proposal for the children’s summer camp.

We’re going to be looking towards a lot of future architects and designers who say, ‘Minecraft was what inspired me to actually build this real-life building, because in the game I could use this incredible digital canvas where anything you want, you can make.’
— Lydia Winters, Mojang

The proposed design includes a variety of structures as well as trees and space to relax and play.