HE IMPACTS THAT SOCIALLY ENGAGED BUILT FORMS HAVE ON THE POOR IN NAIROBI: Towards creating sustainable decent built environments

The growing issue of how architects can best appreciate and interpret the end user needs and requirements is one which continues to generate a great deal of debate in the provision of architectural services in the case of the poor in contemporary times. Whilst current good practice literature highlights the need for community-based participative integrated approaches that simultaneously generate livelihoods alongside physical and social infrastructure improvements, most of the architectural interventions in Nairobi, serving to alleviate poverty levels and improve quality of life have been administered from the conventional top-down approach, neglecting the social concerns and existing socio-economic fabric of the poor populace. In the end, these built up products fail to establish a way of realising sustainable decent built environments for the poor.

The author, by suggesting the concept of participation as a viable means to producing sustainable decent built environments sought to identify any existing socially engaged built forms with the poor in the city, with the non-probabilistic sampling method narrowing to Kibera slum socially-engaged-built-form distribution through purposive sampling. The positive impacts accrued on the wider contexts of the poor are studied using the case study design strategy that is considered most appropriate because it is speci c and expansive enough to adapt to the various complexities that encompass the subject matter. All this with the main aim of attempting to engage – to learn and teach – the language of social engagement in the built forms for the poor, will dictate appropriate generalisations in the form of a set of criteria to be generated for the purpose of enhancing future proactive engagements with the poor. Preliminary eld studies indicate that the network of Kibera Public Space Projects (KPSP) stand out as built forms that have been socially engaged with the poor towards the realisation of sustainable decent built environments. The study ndings indicate that in order to achieve sustainability in the built forms for the poor, processes of social engagement in the architectural interventions should strive to address the social, economic and environmental immediate contexts of the poor. Thus fostering the accretion of positive impacts in the form of social empowerment, economic resilience and environmental compatibility.

Based on the research ndings, the author draws two main recommendations that that can be adopted to help propagate the notion of participation/social engagement as a viable means to realising sustainable built forms for the poor, whilst availing a set of criteria to serve as guidelines for the professionals in future proactive social engagements with the poor.

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