Austin-Smith:Lord have shared with us their entry to the international competition for the Nairobi Greater Metropolitan Region. In January 2010, the UK-based firm together with its Kenyan partners Saad Yahya & Associates and engineering firm Mott Macdonald were shortlisted along with 5 others to develop a concept for the Nairobi 2030 Metropolitan Spatial Plan. Consulting Engineering Services from India Ltd. were the eventual winners.
There are 4 regions that compromise the Nairobi Metro Region area. The city area of Nairobi measures 684 sq kilometres alone, with the larger metro area covering 3,000sq. km. The land of Nairobi’s region falls from the edge of the Rift Valley in the west at an elevation of 2,300 metres, to 1,500 metres to the east of the city, with the centre of the city standing at 1,700 metres. Nairobi was a staging post for agrarian and pastoral tribes. In the early 1900’s the trading boundaries were stretched from Uganda through Nairobi to Mombasa on the coast. The UAE has invested in broadband for all. Digital trade has started.
The total population of the Region increased from 1.36 million in 1979 to roughly 3 million in 1999, with an anticipated growth to 5 million by 2015. The last master plan made in 1970 has not been revised since and many of the issues unchecked, unplanned, unresolved some 40 years on.
Consider Africa’s largest informal settlement of Kibera, that has established itself + grown to the west of Nairobi. It is now a locally run organism of houses, shops, schools, surgeries and small businesses. Previously an unhealthy environment, its residents have taken control. There are many such organisms that have grown like viruses across Nairobi attaching themselves to the city’s fringes. Some better, some worse. Can man’s viral instinct - work from the small scale up to the metro scale - contribute to future planning ideas and decision making?
Giraffes and other migrating animals in the national park stand in stark silhouette to the urban back drop of flyovers, traffic and buildings to the adjacent central Nairobi. People walk between home and work because they cannot afford ‘matutu’ taxi’s or buses. Wildlife in the park are stopped in their tracks seasonally because of man’s encroachment on their land. Nairobi was the green capital of Africa.
We wish to re-green the city by opening, improving and cleaning up the city’s arteries. It’s roads, rail, rivers and water ways to allow free passage.
We propose small – medium and long distance radius ‘rings’ of infrastructure; systems of road, rail, sewage and clean-water supply and storage. We propose to link new and existing towns across the existing network of roads, river and rail lines, providing each town with it’s own political, economic, social and infrastructural identity.
Nairobi stands at a cross roads. All Nairobi’s considerable energy, beauty and resource are in balance. Growth and change best happens from within. Any new scheme for the region has to use people and materials sustainably.
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