Interview: The State of Urban Planning in Nairobi Creating vibrant urban communities in large cities: Kilimani Project Foundation Placemaking Week: Can Nairobi create “Places’ out of ‘Spaces’? Nairobi City: Moving Backwards in Mobility and Access? NTV Kenya Documentary on Nairobi Transport Upper Hill, Nairobi: Growing as Africa’s Financial Capital! African Cities, Please Change the Narrative on Non Motorized Transit! Likoni Cable Express Line: Transforming Coastal Mobility The Nairobi Pedestrian: An Unwanted Species Blog Awards: Vote for #MjiWetu: Mixed Land Use is not Random Land Use #MjiWetu: Do Walls improve the Security of our City? Nairobi: Mixed Use Zones are Redefining the City Is Nairobi Central Business District DEAD? Nairobi, Kenya, faces a Growing Challenge of Noise Pollution Kenya: Teaching Public Service Drivers First Aid and Safety Any Future for Nairobi’s Dandora Dump Site? Nairobi, Kenya: No BRT due to Poor Planning? Nairobi and the 100 Resilient Cities Programme Nairobi’s Long Rains: A failure in Urban Resilience? Intern at The Global Grid Participation: Using Social Media in the Urban Planning process Nairobi Public Spaces: Viable or open for Grabbing? Kenyan Blog Awards: Blog Needs your Vote! Nairobi: How can buses help decongest? Public vs Private Urban Housing, what direction for Nairobi, Kenya? Aerial Cable Transit: Urban Gondolas for African Cities? How Sustainable are the emerging Private Cities around Nairobi, Kenya? Urban October: Public Spaces for All Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street: User Friendly or Not? Countering the Increasing Energy Consumption in Growing Cities Kenya: Two Railway Lines Running Parallel on Different Gauges Mi Teleférico: Worlds Highest Cable Car Transports over 42,000 people daily Cable Cars: Introducing the Likoni ‘Air-Line’ in Mombasa, Kenya Planners: Does Security in Urban Centres begin with you? Moving Urban Dwellers through the Air to alleviate Traffic Congestion When the call to drive at 30 kph in Nairobi, Kenya is necessary! Land use management in Nairobi, Kenya is key to reducing congestion. Nairobi, Kenya: Neglect of NMT makes it less safe, less convenient and less attractive. Nairobi, Kenya aims at Regularizing Unauthorized Structures How can Nairobi, Kenya deal with its ‘Buildings of Death’ ? Harmonizing Initiatives: Nairobi, Kenya works towards developing an NMT Policy

Placemaking Week: Can Nairobi create “Places’ out of ‘Spaces’?


Bio: Constant Cap has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He holds an undergraduate degree from the same university. He writes about urban planning issues online and in local dailies. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya he passionate about the planning issues facing African Cities. He has a deep interest in sustainable transportation, urban resilience and new urbanism. He is also a Graduate Member of the Town and County Planners Association of Kenya. He has previously worked at the Strathmore University Advancement Office. He currently works as the Executive Director of Kilimani Project Foundation.


Over 30 community groups and professional organizations came together from the 15th to 19th of November 2017 for the second consecutive year to organize what is now the annual “Nairobi Placemaking Week.

Although the term “placemaking is still strange to the ordinary city resident, there is nevertheless a deep appreciation and understanding among citizens of the need for open public spaces. Over time, the stalwarts behind the placemaking week have mobilized people from various sectors to advocate for the need and importance of inclusive public spaces in the city.

Nairobi’s history reveals a once racially divided city. In spite of the race and consequent class divisions, the city had allocated significant public open spaces in the form of playgrounds, social halls, sports clubs, stadia and parks.

Over the last few decades, Nairobi has faced a very significant challenge related to public land allocation. This has lead to the loss of several open spaces to private development. The designated official “City Square is now a well fenced and guarded property with no allowance given to the public to sit and pass leisure time. 

Other public spaces like the Nairobi Arboretum have imposed entry fees and charge visitors for activities like photography within the park. This has dispossessed both the urban poor and the general public of inclusive public space.

City bylaws  also prevent restaurants from extending their operations onto adjacent pavements (although informal vendors get away trading on the same pavements). Pedestrianization programmes are at times seen by city engineers negatively as “a challenge to vehicular traffic to flow.

The result has been the creation of more “private spaces. This is exemplified by the upper and middle classes giving preference to private clubs, shopping malls and indoor coffee houses.


The annual Nairobi Placemaking Week attempts to deflect this trend. The week consists of a series of activities organized to engage audiences and create more awareness of the importance and essence of open public spaces.  Activities include “share the road, several street concerts, urban dialogue, urban cycling, an urban skating marathon and a community street festival. These are held in various parts of the city across several communities.

Share the road is a temporary closure of a street that is transformed to a people-friendly public space through art and people-centric activities. This includes marking the pedestrian ways, photo expo, games and allowing adjacent restaurants to extend to the pavement and street. 

Urban dialogue brings together people from different sectors“ practitioners, creatives, policy makers, academicians, professional organizations, Non Motorized Transit users “ to discuss the impact and influence of public spaces on urban life. The“critical mass cycling event assembled over 80 cyclists doing a circuit around Nairobi and finishing at the community street festival where over 1000 residents enjoyed games, fashion, food and art along a closed street section.


Placemaking weeks have been growing in several parts of the world. Earlier this year placemaking weeks were held in Amsterdam and Vancouver.

The world is urbanizing and we cannot ignore the need and importance of open and inclusive public spaces. Cities are experiencing increased demand for spaces for children and adults to play, for the elderly to sit and talk, for teens to hang out and for creatives to paint, sing and dance. Spaces are also needed for several other activities that make cities more vibrant, cohesive and inclusive.

Melbourne, Vienna and Vancouver were recently named the world’s most livable cities. City planners in Vienna state that they view the city as a social system, a perspective that makes them put ‘people’ at the centre of their planning. As a result, they are continuously attempting to create and re-create urban public spaces in spite of continuous urban growth. They view public spaces as the engine of the city and the heart of urban life. This is unlike the trend in other cities that tend put cars as their central focus.


African cities ought to be innovative and identify how they can both create and reignite public spaces. They should view public spaces as  means of celebrating cities, bringing people together, enhancing communities and not as “jobless corners. For this to happen, “people’must be at the centre and heart of all planning methods.

What has your city done towards improving public spaces? Do you feel that public spaces should be all inclusive or there needs to be some control mechanisms over them?


Images from Nairobi Placemaking Network, Data Linked to Sources.
If you are interested in being part of the Nairobi Placemaking Network or want to know more feel free to write to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2016 African City Planner