Virtual Game Gives Kids & Kids at Heart an Opportunity to Create Ideal Downtown: Media Preview on July 26 from 4-6PM


July 26, 2016


Downtown Winnipeg ─ Winnipeggers can now experience Downtown Winnipeg in a whole new way — virtually in Minecraft. A SketchUp model of Downtown Winnipeg was imported into Minecraft, giving kids (and kids at heart!) the opportunity to strategize about how the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ can help downtown go from good to great, with all of the to-scale buildings serving as a backdrop for virtual intervention.

“With the help of an engaged community, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has gone from simply being promoters and advocates to instigators and innovators,” says Stefano Grande, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “Our city’s youth have the best answers to our downtown’s greatest challenges. This Minecraft Lounge is just another way to harness this creative energy and to encourage greater participation towards a collective visioning for the future of our downtown.”

Kids have been envisioning all sorts of interesting interventions, including how a roundabout would look at Portage and Main. Other fun illustrations include a joint sidewalk café/library, community gardens, rooftop gardens, and a significant amount of public art. They have also done a bit of redesigning of current structures, including making the skywalks a bit more beautiful, and encouraging the buildings to put more eyes on the street. Other ideas: a subway, monorail, airships, and a mission to Mars.

“There have been some negotiations in the lounge so far — since 6 computers all are working on the same Minecraft world simultaneously,” says Hazel Borys, CEO of PlaceMakers Inc., and a planning consultant for the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Strategic Planning Process. “This gets some people spawning polar bears, and others focused in on walkability and cycle-friendliness. Part of that process has seen Portage and Main tested out as pedestrian-only. Kids may be the only ones who would make those sorts of far-out suggestions! Over time, subsequent loungers have changed Portage and Main to a multi-modal environment where cars, bikes, and pedestrians all share the space.”

The leaders of the Downtown Winnipeg Minecraft Lounge are 11 and 12-year olds, Roman Borys and Juca Shanski de Aquino, who point out, “The Minecraft Lounge is a great way of designing and planning urban environments for the future of downtown Winnipeg, for both kids and adults.” They’ve taught a few adults how to play the game, as well as setting some rules that they ask the kids to follow. Their big questions include:

  • What do you love about downtown, and how can you connect it to people places?
  • Is there anything that scares you about downtown, and how can you make it friendlier?

Roman and Juca have had some assistance from adult collaborators who’ve volunteered time to develop the project, including PlaceMakers, Inc., PlaceMakers, LLC, BLDG Architecture Office Inc., and Cibinel Architecture Ltd. Kid collaborators have been several, with another key player being Weldon Scott.

We’ve had 6 hours of Minecraft Lounge so far, in Chinatown and North Main Street. July and September upcoming lounges may be found here:

  • Tuesday, July 26 (4-6 p.m.) at Portage Place Globe Cinema with a movie screening of Lego Movie afterward at 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 27 (4-6 p.m.) at NE corner of MTS Centre by ticket booth
  • Thursday, July 28 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) at Winnipeg Chinese Cultural &  Community Centre
  • Tuesday, September 6 (5-7 p.m.) at University of Winnipeg

For more info, go to or contact: Jason Syvixay, Managing Director, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, 204-958-4635,, or Hazel Borys, CEO, PlaceMakers, Inc. / President, PlaceMakers, LLC, 204-989-0217,

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Jason Syvixay, Managing Director
Phone: (204) 958-4635; Email: