22bn-block Minecraft map of Britain crafted by Ordnance Survey

Using its free OS OpenData, the mapping agency translated 50-metre chunks of Britain into blocks in one of the biggest real-world Minecraft maps ever made.

What a wonderful thing this is. Stuffy old Ordnance Survey, best known for creating the maps you used to use before your phone did it much better, has created an absolutely vast Minecraft map of Britain, using 22 billion blocks.

The UK's national mapping agency didn't spend years mining and placing materials, but used its free OS OpenData and translated 50-metre chunks of map into blocks. Using the basic feature of each square -- water, road, beach, city -- it translated it into a specific material, at roughly the right height.

Motorways were crafted in diamond, A-roads in emerald, forest in leaves, plains in grass and towns in brick. The gorgeous result is free to download, fly around and muck about with as you will.

"We think we may have created the largest Minecraft world ever built based on real-world data," says Graham Dunlop, manager of Ordnance Survey's Innovation Lab. "The resulting map shows the massive potential, not just for using Minecraft for computer technology and geography purposes in schools, but also the huge scope of applications for OS OpenData too."

Brilliantly, it was all the idea of a young intern, Joseph Braybrook, a keen Minecrafter. "It’s impressive to know that despite never having used Java programming previously, Joseph took just two weeks to create the Minecraft GB world," boasts his proud boss.

When you load the world up in Minecraft, you start out at OS' HQ in Southampton. You can easily teleport to scenic locations such as Snowdonia (pictured above), Loch Ness (below) or Poole Harbour (top).

To find a specific place in the world, the OS getamap service lets you search by postcode or place name. It gives you a grid reference, which you can turn into Minecraft co-ordinates with this tool.

You can read more about the project and download the files you need at Ordnance Survey's website. What would you add to a digital recreation of Britain? Get creative in the comments, or on our meticulously crafted Facebook page.

 

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