The City Council of Nairobi and UN-Habitat last week held a four day workshop on revitalizing public spaces within the Kenyan city.
The workshop that ran from the 28th February to 2nd March 2012, identified two public spaces, Silanga Community Center in Kibera slums and Jevanjee Gardens in the central business district, as pilots for demonstrating how accessible and inclusive public spaces can improve service delivery and overall livability in the city.
UN-Habitat brought on board internationally-recognized public space experts from three world renowned firms- Gehl Architects of Copenhagen, Project for Public Space of New York and White Architects of Stockholm -in order to contribute to the design of the project and to provide the training. At least 25 members of technical staff from the city council were trained. In addition, representatives from the Ministry for Local Government, universities, the business sector, and NGO partners participated in sections of workshop.
The result of this initiative will be a five-year program to revitalize public spaces throughout the city, to include public spaces development in the over-all Master Plan for Nairobi Metropolitan area, and to prepare guidelines that cities throughout Kenya can utilize on planning and managing good public spaces.
"The social value of public spaces lies in opportunities for mixing with others and developing local attachment, and in people's memories of places. The possibilities for casual social encounters are a key element in people's commitment to the area, while memories of familiar places create a sense of belonging and safety in a city," says Tom Odongo, Director of City Planning at the City Council of Nairobi.
In a media breakfast on Friday the 2nd March, the Town Clerk, Mr. Philip Kisia and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, all commended the success of the workshop and their commitment to this important partnership in furthering sustainable urban development in Nairobi.
At the 23rd Governing Council of UN-Habitat, the Government of Kenya sponsored a resolution on sustainable urban development through access to quality urban public spaces. This reflects a shift in government's policy towards managing urbanization through good urban planning and the sustainable use of city resources and spaces.