Korogocho Streetscapes is an urban laboratory that suggests an inclusive way of working with urban development through activities and small-scale, high-impact implementations within the public space and the streetscape. Instead of traditional design and planning processes the project focus on temporary and direct interventions aiming at creating safer, more democratic and inclusive public spaces. The project is working with the streets as a common performance ground to integrate sports, art and play in strengthening the Korogocho identity. This is done by collaborations and activities preformed in the streetscape, target children and youth often left out in decision-making processes.
The initiative is action-based, to create visible changes and trust in the community. By nurturing the rise of optional and spontaneous activities to take place in the streetscape, the streets are transformed into places of self-expression, influence and arenas for every-day life for all. So far several interventions and regular activities has been taking place in Korogocho and Nairobi, such as open street events, roller-skating, football tournaments, street-art, pop-up concerts and the Nairobi Placemaking week. In 2016 a local culture hub was established, from where the various project ideas can developed, improved and then carried out in the streetscape.
The street as a laboratory
The Korogocho streetscapes suggests an inclusive way of working with streets in order to engage youth in the urban transformation processes, where the local community and stakeholders fully own the process. The initiative is action-based, to create visible changes and trust in the community. By nurturing the rise of optional and spontaneous activities to take place in the streetscape, the streets can be transformed to places of self-expression, influence and power.
The Korogocho streetscape can serve as a valuable pilot study on how involving youth can boost positive urban and individual transformations. The lessons learnt from the Korogocho laboratory can form the basis for a citywide approach on how to work with youth and public space. Ideally, the project should tap into the Nairobi Public Space project which is a collaboration between UN Habitat and the City County of Nairobi that aims at improving the delivery and access to good public spaces with a focus on less favored urban residents, stating that this can be a powerful strategy to improve equity in the city and to combat crime and discrimination.
Multiple public space initiatives are already taking place throughout the city of Nairobi. Partnerships where local governments, individual organizations, individuals and stakeholders are connected can form powerful networks where multiple public space initiatives are linked to generate a strong and comprehensive public space strategy. The city should be looked upon as a laboratory where public space initiatives are tested, continuously evaluated, improved and replicated.
The project started with the publication “Korogocho Streetscapes – documenting the role and potentials of streets in citywide slum upgrading”, published by UN Habitat in 2012. The publication is an evaluation of the street upgrading programme that was implemented through the Korogocho Slum Upgrading Programme (KSUP).
A strong collaboration between the grassroots organization Hoperaisers and the initiators of the report arose during the process of finalizing the publication.
In 2014, the collaboration is entering a new stage, where the lessons learnt from the publication and the strong local knowledge held by Hoperaisers will be combined in an effort to work with young people in Korogocho in order to transform the streetscape from the ground. Architects without Borders SE and Hoperaisers will work with the streets to improve the life of youth in the area, formulated in three bridging goals:
Create safer, democratic and more vibrant street life in Korogocho. This is done by the
acknowledgement of the power of art and culture as a generator of public space.
Work with the streets as a common performance ground to integrate sports, art and play
in strengthening the Korogocho identity.
Work with children and youth to improve self-esteem and confidence to act in public
Streets and Youth
Streets serve as democratic, open public space and as platforms for economic and social development. They play a fundamental role for the public life in cities, by representing meaning, identity and orientation in a city. Streets should be looked upon not only as the physical entity for mobility but also as the public realm that articulates and promotes social,
cultural and economic activities.
Youth form the next generation in cities. Despite this, youth are often being marginalized in planning processes, considered to be the perpetrators of criminal activity and vandalism. However, these actions are often an expression of frustration over being excluded in society. By involving youth groups and seeing them as a resource in urban transformation processes they feel involved, responsible and attached to the wider urban fabric, generating urban as well as individual transformation. When young people are taking part in urban transformation processes it nurtures a connection to the streetscape and to the city as a whole. Experienced social inclusion in the city and the belonging to a greater context decreases the feeling of marginalization and segregation. The allowance of individual expression in public realm leads to improvement of security and safety and nurtures individual initiatives of improving the public space.
Korogocho Streetscapes is in different ways working with the transformation and development of the public space through participatory methods, in urban planning terms called “Placemaking”.
ONE PEOPLE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES WALK
The idea of the activity is to bring people from different communities of Nairobi together, and walk through the city as one group to overcome mental barriers separating people physically.
The idea of the Open Street is to create a platform where children and youth are given space in the public to showcase their talent, reclaim the space of the street to a place for people and to create a positive meeting place in the community.
The project aim is to transform the streets into colourful public spaces through art that could make them feel safer and part of the public space. It is also an attempt to work with inclusive urban transformation where as many residents as possible participate.