Belfast Telegraph

Minecraft kids recreate splendour of Armagh in stunning detail

By Linda Stewart

You've probably been to the historic city of Armagh. Well, now's your chance to pay a visit to Armagh 2.0 - the Minecraft version.

This cityscape is the work of a group of 40 students who clocked up a total of 500 hours over the summer creating a scale copy of the Georgian city centre on the online game. The students recreated the city in intricate detail, down to the hidden gargoyles that adorn many of the historic buildings.

Teacher Daniel O'Reilly, who oversaw the work in a week-long summer programme at the AmmA creative learning centre, said the students all had their own particular buildings to look after, from the Market House to the Church of Ireland Cathedral to the Marketplace Theatre.

"They worked like beavers to get it done and then they pulled it all together at the end so that things like the Mall would look right," he said.

"We went to Google Earth, which has a measuring tool, and we were able to use that to work out how many metres high the Cathedral was. A metre in real time is one Minecraft block, but we wanted it to have a bigger impact, so we did two to one."

Copies of the Minecraft map are now available for anyone to download if they want to put their own stamp on the city.

At the moment it covers just the city centre, but the team at AmmA are hoping to work with schools over the next year or two to add on the surrounding residential areas.

There were also a number of more complicated buildings, including the Armagh Observatory, the Armagh Planetarium and the Forum, which were too complicated to cover in just one week and which will be used for future projects.

Meanwhile, there are a number of added features which you won't see if you're travelling round Armagh on foot.

The most detailed structure is the Cathedral - even down to the gravestone of Brian Boru - and the students have added crypts beneath the structure, although they had to guess what these look like as they didn't have access.

And there is also a series of digital learning programmes hidden underground in Armagh 2.0 which can be accessed by anyone who wants to learn more about computer programming or Minecraft electronics.

"There's also a water elevator which brings you down to a hidden layer which looks like a spaceship. The architecture of it is amazing," Daniel explained.

"There are also dragons lurking in a few corners - there is a material which you can use which creates dragons."

The students have created a spectacular video showing how they created Armagh 2.0. "We used flyover shots with a drone for the purpose of allowing you to appreciate the effort it takes to make things look real," he said.

Meanwhile, inspired by the project, two of the students are now creating a Minecraft copy of their house at the behest of their mum, who wants them to design an extension.

The Belfast Telegraph in conjunction with CultureTECH is currently running a Minecraft Challenge.

All those under 18 may enter and are challenged to create either Belfast City Hall, the Giant's Causeway, The Guild Hall in Londonderry or the Harland and Wolff cranes within Minecraft. Details on how to enter will be posted on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph