Science Fest Presentation of Minecraft

Helen Weinstein presents at Collusion's Maker Challenge at the University's Science Festival

Collusion organized for there to be a Science Festival afternoon for all the teams to present their 'wicked' problem solutions to invited guests from Cambridge City Council and open to the public interested in these issues.  From team 2, key members Rich Hall and Beverley Carpenter, were known in advance not to be available, so Helen Weinstein agreed to give the presentation and field the Q&A session about how we may imagine Cambridge in 2020 with the predicted growth in population and businesses, with the accompanying pressure on housing and transport networks, let alone the possibility of risign sea levels and flooding inland by 2030.  Helpfully, Rich Hall put together the following document as an introduction to those interested in the data issues and know how he had gone about recreating Cambridge in Minecraft.   

Note, that the principal data is from LIDAR and this is an acronym for "Light Detection And Ranging".  LIDAR technology uses light sensors to measure the distance between the sensor and the target object. Airborne LIDAR is becoming more and more popular as a source of terrain mapping due to the high levels of detail it provides.  From an aircraft this includes objects such as the ground, buildings and vegetation. For ground based LIDAR it measures building fronts and street furniture in extreme detail. With the latest technologies it is also possible to obtain colour values of the scanned surface to create an automatically textured model.  For the Cambridge Minecraft project, Rich Hall used data from aircraft and this data is very accurate, high resolution 3D data. Captured using special sensors, from the air it results in a set of "dots" suspended in a three-dimensional space. These dots can be displayed in special software or converted into a 3D mesh for use in many modern 3D software packages, such as 3D Studio MAX, Maya and Sketchup.  Read below to find out how Rich Hall converted the LIDAR data to a Minecraft model. 

Data used:

LIDAR data from the Environment Agency available via with "Use limitation depending on license". Very straightforward process to get the data. The Minecraft model uses the 1m Digital Surface Map (DSM) and Digital Terrain Map (DTM) Roads paths and building data from OpenStreetMap

Various Open Source tools

Questions and Answers

Q. How big is the map?
A. The surface is 64 million square metres. Each Minecraft block is a metre. It corresponds to OS coordinates 542000,254000 : 550000,262000. However, facing due North in Minecraft is a negative value so just stick a minus in front of the northing value and you should get to the right place. There are online tools to give eastings and northings from postcodes if you want to find a specific area.

Q. Why are some areas missing - just showing roads cut away?
A It's nothing personal - this is where LIDAR data wasn't available. I think the roads are mapped at sea level so good for getting a feel for altitude of the terrain

Q. Why are some buildings green or not there at all?
A. The LIDAR data is up to a few years old so it is likely that the OpenStreetMap view is more up to date. Alternatively the OSM data could be not accurate to the building edges.

Q. Why are some edges of buildings missing?
A. The building edges have been "trimmed" a bit to improve the definition of building edges. You can build them back..

Q. Can I get a copy of the Minecraft model?
A. Yes. Use the download link at the top of the page or see

Q. What game mode does it use?
A. Single player creative mode.

Q. Why aren't the bridges tunnelled through?
A. Some things are best done in the game. Improve an existing river crossing or create your own.

Q. Why is the railway missing?
A. It was next on the to do list. Why not build your own transportation system? Underground? :)

Q. Why so much red brick?
A. It was on the to do list to vary the building materials - feel free to do this in game.

Q. What are the holes and bumps in the road?
A. Probably not potholes. Mostly terrain changes or vehicles captured by the LIDAR. The next version of the map will have half slabs to smoothen out the experience on foot.


You can teleport by typing

/tp <X> <Y> <Z>
in game Minecraft view from Parker's Piece


/tp 545535 100 -258130
should get you to virtual reality checkpoint. The 100 is a height value so you'll be hovering above it. I think 62 is sea level on our model. The minecraft map can be 256 blocks high so plenty of room for building an underground transportation system or some skyscrapers..


Eastern Gate Opportunity Area

in game Minecraft view of the Eastern Gate opportunity area

Page 84 City Plan [PDF]

/tp 546143 150 -258837 (look towards Newmarket Road)

Mill Road Opportunity Area

in game Minecraft view of Petersfield, Donkey Commonin game Minecraft view of the Mill Road Depot site

Page 87 City Plan [PDF]

/tp 545809 125 -258177 (Petersfield, Donkey Common)
/tp 546412 120 -257868 (Mill Road Depot)

Mitcham's Corner Opportunity Area

in game Minecraft view of the Mitchams Corner opportunity area

Page 80 City Plan [PDF]

/tp 545266 125 -259478  


Sight seeing:

in game Minecraft view of King's Parade

Kings Parade (check out the accidental green market stalls)

/tp 544810 80 -258393

Minecraft controls - reminders

Time and weather

/time set 0     || Sets the time to dawn.
/time set day   || Sets the time to 1000.
/time set 6000  || Sets the time to midday
/time set 12000 || Sets the time to dusk
/time set night || Sets the time to 14000.
/time set 18000 || Sets the time to midnight

/gamerule doDaylightCycle [true/false]

/weather clear <time>, /weather rain <time>, or /weather thunder <time> 

Note that is the number of seconds that the weather will take place.


Flying mode can be toggled by double-tapping space. The player can gain or lose altitude while flying by pressing "space" or "shift" keys, respectively. Holding "control" allows you to move faster while flying.

Take a picture

Seen something you like? - Hit "F2" to take a picture.

Get Involved

It is an early prototype and there is a lot that could be improved. For more information see ways you can help. We plan to release the corresponding WorldPainter maps and tutorials shortly.

view of Jesus Green rendered by MapCrafter

Creative Commons License 
Minecraft Cambridge by Collusion Maker Challenge Team 2 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Based on works at and OpenStreetMap .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at


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