A new Minecraft city model introduces Helsinki in more detail

First released last year, the Minecraft-Helsinki3D+ city model has been updated with a new version that allows you to virtually take over the entire city. Thanks to the triangular network model used in the design, the updated game world includes not only buildings but also other elements belonging to the city, such as its trees and cruise ships. The versatile game environment can also be utilised in schools, for example, in teaching local geography.

Minecraft is a popular, open game world suitable for all ages. In Minecraft, you can explore and modify cubic worlds where creativity has no limits. In Helsinki’s Minecraft city model, the cube edge length corresponds to one metre, so the Minecraft Helsinki’s proportions correspond to reality as far as the technology of the cubic world allows.

In the Minecraft Helsinki, you can interact with the urban environment

Published in 2020, the first Minecraft-Helsinki3D+ gave users the opportunity to have adventures at the heart of Helsinki. The new model offers a larger and more realistic version of virtual Helsinki, where users can, among other things, plan their own public transport routes. Pietari Niinimäki, a member of the Helsinki3D+ team who created the new Minecraft Helsinki as part of his non-military service, said that the feedback on the updated city model has been positive.

“The creation of the original Minecraft Helsinki was inspired by the fact that the city model makes the urban environment more easily accessible as a whole to the younger audience in particular. Users have been looking for their own homes and, on the other hand, have tried out what the cityscape would look like if familiar buildings were removed from it”, Niinimäki says.

The Minecraft-Helsinki3D+ urban model is well-suited for teaching purposes. In the city model, you can modify the familiar urban environment in the most imaginative ways. The many uses of the game world provide an opportunity to learn about architecture and the history of Helsinki, for instance.

“It is great that the Minecraft generation can also be involved in the world of city models. Hopefully, this will inspire someone to pursue studies and a career in fascinating digital cities”, says Jarmo Suomisto, Helsinki 3D+ Project Manager.

Screen capture.
Familiar places, like the Senate Square, can be recognized from Minecraft Helsinki.

Helsinki’s open city models are utilised both in the city’s own services and internationally

Built using an open city information model, the Minecraft Helsinki is just one example of the use of the city model. The visually advanced triangular network model offers the opportunity to carry out various analyses, such as study the use of energy or the environmental effects of transport. This way, the results of various options can be simulated virtually before making the final decision.

Helsinki’s open city models are also utilised abroad. Jarmo Suomisto is satisfied with the visibility achieved for the open city models outside Finland, since they have been used especially for teaching and research in European universities of technology. Over the past five years, the Helsinki 3D model has been downloaded more than 12,000 times around the world.

The new Minecraft city model has been coded with completely new software based on a 3D model created by photographing. The software for the exceptionally accurate model has been published as open source code on Helsinki’s GitHub, so other cities can also create a virtual Minecraft version based on the triangular network model.

Written by Milla Palkoaho (originally in Finnish). The press release was originally published in the City of Helsinki news 5.11.2021.