Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pamoja Trust: Kambimoto

'Design Dreaming' Exercises

Through a couple of contacts, I was able to come to know Pamoja Trust, who have been doing some really great work in a number of the slums and informal settlements around Nairobi. They have been working diligently, helping communities better understand their own dynamics, initiating savings schemes, securing tenure, and eventually, at the end of all that, building new housing where people were previously living in shacks made of whatever metal they could get their hands on. They work in collaboration with a local community group called Muungano wa Wanavijiji, and some local architects. One architect, in particular has been working almost exclusively for them and has been especially generous with his time. Much of my reflections here are based on conversations with him.

A process of intensive and inclusive community building

Overall, the approach of Pamoja Trust is very methodical and multi-pronged, digging deep into social challenges, but using the physical manifestation of a home to seek much larger change. One project where they have done this is Kambimoto, a slum upgrading program in Huruma, just outside of Nairobi. The actual building of the homes did not start until after multiple years of intensive community building, organizing, and preparing.

The project itself will be about 70 units of new housing built on the same amount of land that the community previously occupied.

Before, during, and after

They are building the project in phases, and have only completed 34 units so far. Consequently, the each phase of the project can currently be seen. Each unit has a footprint of about 215 SF (14x14). This was to be able to fit all families on the land while, also having some open space and pathways that would support upgrading infrastructure. One floor was built for each family, and it was designed to grow vertically, as families would add another floor when it was necessary and/or feasible. The stairs up to the eventual third floor were already built as a reminder to people that ,”their houses are not finished.”

Houses designed to be expanded vertically

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