Last year Ebbsfleet Development Corporation  commissioned Blockbuilders, an organisation that uses the computer game ‘Minecraft’ to engage children and young people in codesign, to assist us to work with on some of our civic buildings. Minecraft is a video game in which players create and break apart various kinds of blocks in three-dimensional worlds.’

Our first sessions were held on the 13th November with Ebbsfleet Academy and focussed on the Health and Wellbeing Hub proposed for Ebbsfleet Central. Both sessions were with students from Year 7, aged between 11 and 12 and were chosen by members of staff, with the students having stood out in terms of performance and behaviour.

The first group had 11 students and ran from the beginning of the school day up until lunchtime. The students were really interested in the project, asked lots of questions, and participated with a lot of enthusiasm. We received positive feedback from all the studentsinvolved, they liked being a part of designing something for their community.

The second group had 10 students and ran from lunch time until the end of the school day.

This group came up with multiple designs and decided to join up in smaller groups to work on designs together.

Ideas from the sessions

  • They felt that with the large grass area it would be nice to incorporate a bridge that connected one end to the other so people could observe the grounds from above, whilst aiding in accessibility.
  • The students wanted to include local businesses in the new development by having a mpop-up shop outside to sell food. This could change from month to month to showcase multiple small businesses.
  • They felt that having a greenhouse would be a great attraction, with an element of community, so people could plant things there.
  • A seating area was important to the students, a space where people couldjust come and hang out, and maybe talk to each other. These spaces are very rare,especially for young people as they often feel they aren’t welcome in open spaces.
  • They built an aquarium, again as something that people could enjoy together, with the potential to donate fish and wildlife to the aquarium.
  • Two students created swimming pools; they would be public pools open to anybody.
  • One student wanted a space for people to be able to get together and play video

games. Young people could work/volunteer there as well, to help people who maybe aren’t as confident in this area.

  • They felt it was important to have an outdoor play area for children, as well as an attractive area for people to relax
  • An outdoor LGBTQ+ safe space was a big theme for this group. The young people were very passionate about creating a safe space in the community. This consists of an outdoor area where people can come and hang out, but also chat about issues they are facing, with volunteers working there to help.
  • On student built an LGBTQ+ flag room – the idea would be to have all the flags that represent everybody in the LGBTQ+ community. People could go into the room and find out more about each flag.
  • On group of students were fans of anime and wanted a special area where people could go to learn more about it, and purchase things to do with it.
  • Meditation room – mindfulness has very much been in the sphere for young people since Lockdowns. They wanted to have a space where people could come to relax and meditate in a group setting. It would be open to anybody.
  • Therapy rooms – also within the mindfulness arena, students were very aware of mental health issues and wanted to create a free therapy space where therapists will be, and anybody can drop in and talk to them.
  • Yoga room – continuing with this theme, the students also wanted a yoga area which is also open to the public.
  • Memorial area – this space was for the public to put up pictures or writings about somebody they knew who had passed away. Anybody can add to it, and there is a seating area for people to view the memorial.

EDC are currently working with a wide range of Health and Wellbeing stakeholders to codesign the Hub and these ideas will feed into the process.

We plan to hold another session soon with Cherry Orchard (once lockdown lifts) and will also be running further sessions with Blockbuilders to codesign the Ebbsfleet Green Community building.