Faculty Design - Block'hood


Jose Sanchez, University of Southern California


Block’hood is an architecture video game designed for engaging non-expert audiences and communities into the ecological challenges of architecture. The project follows the disciplinary tradition of participatory systems for architectural production using video games as a medium for public engagement.

The project uses the principles of ecology, entropy and coexistence to challenge the player to think systemically at the moment of designing a neighborhood. By managing resources, and visualizing the ecological impact of design decisions, players can empathize with the challenges of architecture today. The project seeks to expand the reach of architecture by engaging with the popular medium of video games, understanding that the interactive simulations allowed by the format, can closely relate to real-world challenges.

The project was released in 2017 and has been translated into 11 languages reaching an audience of 95,000+ people. The engagement of players with this video game initiative, opens new formats for architectural education and participation, both between architects and citizens, and among citizens. This has been demonstrated in the institutions and public initiatives that have used the video game to teach concepts of architectural ecologies. Block’hood tries to convey a notion of interdependence, where every inhabitant and piece of urban infrastructure is linked through invisible forces. The collective imagination and creativity of players can be observed across all the content developed using the game, as well as the videos posted online, and the forums where the ideas about the game are discussed. Block’hood brings notions of ecological thinking to a new audience, developing a platform for educational infrastructure for generations to come.