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Blok partners with ‘Young Urbanists’ and ‘Urban Think Tank’: Redefining Urban Landscapes in South Africa


In an era where urban spaces are the canvases of innovation, Blok’s latest collaboration with ‘Young Urbanists’ and ‘Urban Think Tank’ marks a groundbreaking moment in South Africa’s urban development. This partnership promises to not only reshape skylines but also to reimagine how we live, work, and play in our cities. As young visionaries and seasoned experts come together, they are set to address the unique challenges and opportunities within South Africa’s vibrant urban environments. This synergy of fresh perspectives and deep-rooted expertise heralds a new chapter in creating sustainable, inclusive, and dynamic urban landscapes that reflect the diverse spirit of our nation.

In the heart of South Africa’s urban landscape, a group of passionate individuals is spearheading a movement to transform cities plagued by the legacies of apartheid. Known as the Young Urbanists, this collective is dedicated to fostering economic, social, environmental, and spatial justice, creating cities that are inclusive, vibrant, and equitable.

A Vision for Change

‘The Young Urbanists’ and the ‘Urban Think Tank’ platform is not just a gathering of like-minded individuals; it is a catalyst for change. Their core objectives are clear: to support and nurture progressive young practitioners and advocates, accelerating the implementation of evidence-based and equitable urban development. They emphasize the importance of ethical planning and design, advocating for effective urban governance and broadening the discussions of urban issues to create opportunities for critical dialogue across various disciplines.

“We aim to provide a safe and productive space for students, young professionals, and experienced urban practitioners who are overwhelmed by the state of practice,” says Blok CEO Jacques Van Embden when asked about the importance of this partnership . “Our goal is to nurture a new generation of practitioners determined to bring about positive change.” as he continued.

Transforming Urban Spaces

Blok is at the forefront of driving radical shifts in the physical form of South African cities. Committed to innovative urban development, Blok advocates for changes in zoning, form, and space to move away from the traditional low-income, sprawled urban development model. Instead, they envision a cityscape that responds to human density and economic opportunities, fostering vibrant, multi-racial, and mixed-income neighborhoods. Blok’s initiatives aim to break down the ‘race map’ that still defines much of the urban landscape, promoting diversity and inclusivity in every sense— economically, and culturally

“We want to see a city where neighborhoods are diverse in every sense—racially, economically, and culturally.”

Reimagining Public Spaces

Public spaces are a critical focus for the ‘Young Urbanists’. They envision inclusive, safe, and fun public areas that encourage community interaction and engagement. By capitalizing on their position and influence, they strive to be proactive agents of change, using their power and privilege to drive meaningful transformations within the city.

Engaging Communities

Community engagement is at the heart of Blok, ‘The Young Urbanists’ and The ‘Urban Think Tank’ and is their primary mission. They seek to strengthen and expand their connections with communities and networks outside their own, fostering community capital and a greater understanding of the daily decisions that impact urban living. Their efforts are aimed at encouraging active citizenship and enabling individuals to take part in shaping their urban environment.

“We believe that meaningful change comes from the grassroots, by engaging with communities and understanding their needs and aspirations, we can work together to create cities that truly reflect the diversity and vibrancy of their residents.” – Blok CEO Jacques Van Embden

Shifting Mindsets

Changing the physical form of cities is not the only part of the Blok, ‘Young Urbanists’ and ‘Urban Think Tank’  mission. They are equally committed to shifting the mindsets, preconceptions, and perceptions of people from all walks of life. They challenge the notion that “where you’re born determines who you become,” advocating for a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.


Blok’s partnership with ‘Young Urbanists’ and ‘Urban Think Tank’ is more than a collaboration; it’s a transformative journey towards redefining South Africa’s urban landscapes. Through their commitment to innovative zoning, inclusive neighborhood development, and community engagement, they are setting a new standard for urban planning. This collective effort not only aims to reshape the physical structure of cities but also to foster a more integrated, equitable, and vibrant society. As Blok continues to lead with vision and purpose, the future of South African cities looks promising, inspiring a new generation of urbanists to carry forward this mission of positive change.

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