UEA students create virtual version of campus

Four freshers used Minecraft to create a digital campus for students to visit online

After weeks of not being on campus, students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have used a computer to create a digital likeness of their university for students to ‘e-visit’ during lockdown.

Four 19-year-old freshers, Sophie Johnston, Rebecca Bystry, Tom Greensted and Matthew Wright used council planning applications and floorplans to create the campus to scale on the popular computer game Minecraft.

Students can visit the campus virtually via the university’s online server. The students have digitally constructed campus landmarks, like the students’ union, library, main square and LCR music venue. The digital campus has even hosted virtual gigs, birthday parties and a game of hide and seek.

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The virtual campus has hosted online parties.

The university’s Norwich campus has an unmistakable appearance, owing to its distinct ‘New Brutalist’ architectural style – UEA’s terraced residences, which have become known as Ziggurats, are perhaps the most idiosyncratic example of this.

Much of the campus was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun – the famed architect of the Royal National Theatre – and was built in the early part of the 1960s. Sir Denys’s stunning creation now has Grade II listed status. Nearly 60 years on since the university opened, the UEA campus remains much as its architect intended – concrete structures with large glass windows looking out over a verdant 320-acre estate.

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The campus is a listed example of 1960s architecture.

The four creators are building structures, answering player questions and troubleshooting issues on campus. The friends used Minecraft’s creative mode, which means they had unlimited access to the materials the game offers players.

Sophie said: “Since we’re first years and haven’t been to some of the buildings, we’ve had to use the help of other students, staff and alumni who’ve provided photos to help us- there’s been lots of reminiscing!

“We all agree that the thing we miss the most is the social aspect of uni, meeting and getting to know so many different people from all sorts of backgrounds.

“The server has helped us keep in contact with each other, but also meet people we never would have in real life, which has been good for all of us mentally during lockdown.”

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Students have been missing the social interactions on campus, but have had the chance to make new connections via the virtual version.

Read more: Return to campus: how universities are approaching this difficult decision

Related news: University of East Anglia partners with Rathbones Folio Prize

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