The AmmA Centre, Armagh

Project: Amma 2.0 – A Virtual Creation of the Armagh Cathedral and Market Square

Armagh is one of Northern Ireland’s finest heritage towns. The Church of Ireland cathedral sits on top of the hill overlooking the Market Square, The cathedral is surrounded by beautiful gardens, grounds and a host of listed historic buildings including the Robinson Library, Vicars Hill and others. It also is a designated Conservation Area. The AmmA centre recognised that understanding heritage of Armagh’s historic buildings is not always compatible with the digital lifestyles that young people lead today, so a decision was taken to solve this by recreating the area as part of a one week Minecraft challenge. The project consisted of an elaborate effort to recreate historic Armagh using a range of digital and Virtual Reality tools, notably the Minecraft platform. Minecraft is an ever-popular gaming platform played by millions of young people all over the world. Approximately forty young people volunteered to participate. The young people surveyed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh through site visits and a range of digital tools. Once a scaled plan had been prepared, the students divided into teams and proceeded to construct the cathedral and town square in remarkable detail, block by block to 2:1 scale. An example of this detail — through their own initiative the students included a grave for Brian Boru who is rumoured to be buried in the cathedral grounds. Although guided by the AmmA Centre staff, the young people lead large parts of the project themselves, exhibiting a level of expertise in Minecraft that was unmatched by any of the staff.