Housing strategies in Kenyan towns and dweller-initiated transformations-Case estates from Nairobi
Housing demand in Nairobi city has exceeded her rapid population growth culminating in shortage, contributory to informal settlements, and now increasingly attributed to dweller-initiated transformation in formal housing. Although additive transformations, manifest as extensions, are responsible for needed additional housing stock, the paper appends the supporting view that qualitative value-addition fulfilling socio-economic needs are also central to the dwellers’ objectives. In first part, the paper traces the historical evolution and the structure of the city’s housing strategies. Favoured by her British colonial heritage, these strategies were concurrent with the modernist paradigm and operationalised as ‘provider’ housing template. The independent state policies hardly deviated from the same premise. This however contradicted participative strategies of the ‘supporter’ paradigm. The paper posits that the absence of dwellerparticipation lends these projects to unilateral transformations prevailing in formal housing in Nairobi. Using two case study projects at Buru-Buru and Kaloleni, the magnitude and nature of the transformations are related. The findings draw a link to the housing consumption model of ownership or rental, as well as the physical design strategy of the estate, clusters grouping entity and dwelling unit. Further, the common negative view of transformations is dispelled in recognition of the conscious enhancement of spatial quality in the transformed estates that promotes the conviviality of the neighbourhoods. The only noted negative quality of transformations is use of transient technology and materials which however is directly related to the lack of tenure and other rights to the locations. These lead to the conclusions that the ingredients of strategy guiding positive outcomes from transformations include an increased sense of security of tenure and appropriate physical strategies for inevitable transformations by designers.