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Public space strategy for Nairobi

Public spaces in the quickly expanding and densifying city of Nairobi are under an immense pressure. How does one improve, activate and create public spaces in Nairobi? ‘Making Cities Together’ is a multiannual project initiated by Placemakers, in collaboration with the International New Town Institute (NL) en International Federation of Housing and Planning (DK). Along with a host of local stakeholders we develop placemaking design strategies for valuable, inclusive and sustainable public spaces.

This project entails the development of a pilot phase according to the Placemaking process:

  • #1 Identification & Analysis – Placemakers and an interdisciplinary team of the University of Nairobi and the Technical University of Kenya have identified and analyzed 17 existing initiatives in which locals and government actively improve spaces with programming and/or physical improvements.
  • #2 Design – During the Placemaking Design Lab 3 of these initiatives – a city park, a courtyard and a slum street – were vested into a strategy with teams of international and local urban professionals, and the local initiators. Private parties, government, UN-Habitat, NGO’s and residents of Nairobi were invited to co-develop these strategies. Results were presented during a large public forum ‘Naipolitans’.
  • #3 Implementation – An expert jury selected the strategy MUST SEED – an initiative that improves courtyards to be upscaled to a neighborhood scale and street level. The project is to spur positive development of vacant factories, commerical spaces, a landfill and the local train station in the neighborhood of Dandora. Dandora, a deprived urban area famous for having the largest landfill of east Africa and its high crime levels. We develop a ‘Model Street’ along with the neighborhood, design team and other partners to improve this neighborhood. The Model Street serves as an example and test case to implement in more streets of the area on a later stage.
  • Knowledge exchange platform – In collaboration with local governement we investigate the added value of these strategies and this pilot project for policy making. In addition to the website, facebook community page and public forum, we intend to organize a monthly physical platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience among local initiatives and government. ‘Making Cities Together’ was brought under international attention at various conferences and exhibitions.

When: 2014 – 2018
Collaboration partners: International New Town Institute, International Federation of Housing and PlanningUN-Habitat, KUWA Urban Spaces, DASUDA Dutch Alliance for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa, Dandora Transformation League, CAVE Architects, Stichting DOENDutch Embassy in Kenya, Technical University Kenya, Nairobi University, Smart City Studio, Hoperaisers, Ma3Route, Avanti Architecture, Boogertman&Partners, Land + Civilization Compositions, Urban CODES, METASITU, Rodeo Architects, Bantu Studio
Where: Nairobi, Kenya

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