1to1 Agency of Engagement

1to1 Agency of Engagement – Organisation


South Africa


National (all SA)




28 Juta Street,
South Africa


Spatial inequality is the phenomena where there is an unequal degree of access to resources and services by individuals in certain areas:

“The unequal amounts of qualities or resources and services depending on the area or location, such as access to adequate transport opportunities, medical facilitates, economic opportunities, public space or other important socio-spatial resources”

What we are: A socio-technical social enterprise

1to1 – Agency of Engagement is a nonprofit social-enterprise that seeks to support the forces that are positively and systematically shaping the way that Southern African cities are seen, made & managed towards a spatially just future.

Who we are: A design-led social impact organisation 

1to1 refers to a scale of approach toward design with, not for, people of South Africa; a scale of engagement that reflects human centered-values in its approach and actions, a scale of reflexive practice that recognises why we are is as important as who we are in our work; it is a scale of action that guides ideas and strategies actioned at a grass-roots scale to affect city-wide and national spatial change. 1to1 is pushing to expand the role of design in regards to spatial justice for South African cities

Our aim

As socio-technical designers, we are driven by a focus on the role for design in regards to spatial justice in South Africa. We believe that each user/resident of a city has a role to play in shaping the collective spaces that make up our urban centers – and we strive to work with this latent social capital that exists within all of us. We have developed our organisation to be effective across the various scales of social impact in our cities, but focus on the grass-roots level of engagement,: the neighborhood scale. We hope to one day live in a South Africa where our cities are, and continue to be, spatially equitable, while all who live have equal spatial opportunities.

Where we are focusing our energy towards spatial justice through addressing

  • Non-effective use of government policies: South Africa has some of the most progressive urban policies in the world – yet we struggle to implement them effectively or at scale. There is a cross-sectoral lack of focus on national policy being implemented at a local level.
  • Grass-roots exclusion in development: Those most affected by the effects of spatial ineqaulity are largely excluded from the developmental processes that seek to benefit them – often to the detriment of the project outcome.
  • Stigma of 'density' & 'informality':There exists a pervasive and dangerous set of stigmas and biases against those that live in spatially marginalized areas – these are often described through the conflated and misused terms of informality, density or under blanketed ideas of poverty.
  • The systemic legacy of colonial & apartheid planning: South Africa’s current spatial form is largely due to the legacy of over 400+ years of unequal and unbalanced development based on colonial and Apartheid urban logics.
  • Effects of urban sprawl & non-optimal land use: Our current (and global) patterns of urban development (seen in patterns of urban sprawl and land use) are no sustainable and often compound the legacy of the colonial and Apartheid city.
  • Lack of spatial practitioners & training: There is an evident lack of professional and on-professionalized practitioners with the understanding or experience of the challenge at hand in the Built Environment Sector.
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