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The Untenable Case of Lucky Summer

Tenements in Nairobi regularly collapse. Why does this happen, and what is to be done about it?

Edwin Oyaro Ondieki defended his PhD thesis “Tenement Housing in Nairobi. The Case of Lucky Summer (Pipeline) Settlement-Embakasi” at AHO on July 7, 2016.

‘Living in single room accommodation is a colonial heritage’, he introduces his research, arguing that today, whole families live in types of housing originally designed for single person work force occupancy.

He has studied the rising phenomena of single room tenements emerging in Nairobi as affordable but still attractive alternative to the regular slums. He continues that one of the main problems is that ‘tenements are found to be a profitable investment’ – explaining these incredibly dense and poorly built developments consisting entirely of single rooms popping up in certain areas of the city.

He argues that the design of these settlements does not conform to the physiological norms or public building standards. He finds that the build environment professionals play little role in these developments, that they lack public amenities, reasonable daylight conditions – even facilities for cooking.

‘Unless we control it, we will have many “Lucky Summers”‘ – referring to the name of the specific urban development he has studied in his research.

Concluding his thesis, Ondieki finds that the poor state of these developments can (and should) be addressed at three levels: 1. On a policy level – including reviewing urban housing policy and introducing subsidies, 2. Administrative intervention is required to ensure compliance with regulations, and finally, 3. Improvements can be made to existing tenements.

‘I have never read a thesis that was more timely,’ First Opponent Dr. Hans Skotte said in his response to the thesis.

Skotte continues to quote AHO Professor Emeritus Edward Robbins that the purpose of doing research is to make it persuasive. Arguing that this was the case with Ondieki’s study, he suggested that the thesis only represents a beginning of a possibility to act and influence developments in the future.

Concluding his defense, Ondieki states that ‘Kenya can kill the tenement with political will’.

Edwin Oyaro Ondieki is a lecturer in The department of Architecture & Building Science at the University of Nairobi.

See also: Edwin Oyaro Ondieki, new PhD

The dissertation will be made available at AHO’s ADORA (Architecture and Design Open Research Archive).

1 response so far:

  1. joseph says:

    good work there, keep it up. kindly link us on http://architecture.uonbi.ac.ke

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