building blocks


Critic: Farzin Lofti-Jam, Jason Danforth
Co-author: Diandra Cohen


play online (safari) here!

gamification, user-control, game architecture, egalitarian design tools

Building Blocks is a video game that allows any person to mock-up the future development of their city. We developed Building Blocks through Unity.

The game is an easy-to-use design tool that allows any citizen to participate in design workshopping without any knowledge of 3d modeling programs.

Cube blocks of brick townhouses, glassy buildings, roads, powerplants, and parks simplify the design process into stacking building blocks. By using a standard block size with a range of forms and textures, every block is compatible with the next.


design tools for the layperson

This game was developed to be a fun and simple as a proof of concept. A more robust future version may allow users to upload an existing model or a portion from Google Earth. Other features could allow players to design, upload and share their own building blocks.

Designers of the future should develop design tools and games to extend control over design work to people outside of the design profession. Designers can facilitate design processes rather than dominating the entire process. Game development allows designers to encode building regulations, structural capabilities and other guidelines that help frame design problems for the layperson.


This game was inspired from the game BlockHoods which was developed by Jose Sanchez and a team at the University of Southern California School of Architecture. 

Games like Sim City and MineCraft  already allow anyone to design worlds, however these games don’t yet extend the capability to workshopping designs for the real world. The aim of Building Blocks is to bring games a step closer to design workshopping capabilites while retaining the fun and ease of playing games.