About Block by Block

Block by Block began in 2012 with the radical idea of integrating the computer game Minecraft into public space planning to get community members more involved. Minecraft is easy to use, and people of all ages, backgrounds, and education levels can pick it up quickly. It’s a surprisingly effective—and cost-effective—way to visualize a three-dimensional environment, in a format designed for rapid iteration and idea sharing. Minecraft helps neighborhood residents model their surroundings, visualize possibilities, express ideas, drive consensus, and accelerate progress.

Give them a day and everyone picks it up.
— Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat
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Early pilot projects in Nairobi and Mumbai evolved into the current Block by Block Methodology, designed to engage people who don’t typically have a voice in public projects—from women and kids to elders, disabled residents, and refugees. Block by Block gives neighborhood residents the training, the tools, and the platform to participate and contribute their ideas, in a collaborative process that helps all participants expand their view.

Block by Block Workshop, Kampala, Uganda
Credit: Block by Block team

 

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The outcome is co-created public spaces that serve the needs of all kinds of residents, a deeply ingrained sense of ownership that increases the odds of long-term success, and, ultimately, stronger communities. The process is designed to build momentum and mobilize community engagement and policy change at the local, national, and global level.

Neighborhood residents enjoying the newly restored Solar Park in Khulna, Bangladesh
Credit: Block by Block team

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The Block by Block Foundation has funded and activated dozens of public space projects in more than 30 countries around the world, improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the process. Block by Block also makes its innovative methodology available to any community interested in actively engaging its residents to improve parks, markets, squares, playgrounds, gardens, waterfronts, streets, and other shared spaces.

Completed public park, Lima, Peru
Credit: Diego Vivas

Our Partners

Block by Block is an innovative collaboration between Mojang, Microsoft, and UN-Habitat.

Mojang is the maker of Minecraft. Mojang licenses the use of Minecraft for Block by Block Workshops and provides ongoing financial support from the sale of licensed Minecraft merchandise. To date, Mojang has mobilized more than $5 million from the Minecraft community to make Block by Block Workshops and projects possible worldwide.

Microsoft is the corporate parent of Mojang. Microsoft provides additional financial and technical support as well as organizational oversight.

UN-Habitat is a United Nations agency working toward a better urban future. Its mission is to promote the development of socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements and adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat pioneered the Block by Block methodology in 2012 and oversees the implementation of the funded projects.

Public space is a vital component of a prosperous city. Well-designed and managed public space is a key asset for a city’s functioning and has a positive impact on its economy, environment, safety, health, integration, and connectivity. The quality of life for people in cities is directly related to the state of its public spaces.
— UN-Habitat Global Space Programme Annual Report, 2016

The Block by Block Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, officially formed in 2015 to amplify the program’s impact after Microsoft acquired Mojang. Block by Block actively supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and is one of only a handful of nonprofit organizations whose work directly supports Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Our work is supported by many organizations who contribute technical and subject matter expertise across our project portfolio, including FyreUK, Svensk Byggtjanst, and Sketchfab, as well as dozens of local partners who make the continued transformation of neglected urban spaces possible. We are grateful.

Our Team

The Block by Block Foundation is run by a collaborative, highly committed team representing Mojang, Microsoft, and UN-Habitat as well as world-renowned experts in public space, urban development, and the urban poor.

Do you share our passion for improving the lives of people in disadvantaged communities through public space? Please get in touch.