Federation for
Housing and

Making Cities Together: Planners Becoming Placemakers

Monday 04.05.2015 to Friday 08.05.2015
Nairobi, Kenya

Placemaking: creating a successful public space in co-creation with the community in the fast growing African city Nairobi.

Stay tuned on updates by checking the project's website which is on-going updated.

Case study

The capital city of Nairobi, Kenya is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation in recent years has forced limited public open spaces (originally intended to serve a population of 250,000) to serve more than 3 million people. Public open spaces in Nairobi suffer from degradation, overcrowding and insecurity, thus denying city residents access to much-needed recreation and leisure facilities. Furthermore, citizens do not feel a sense of collective ownership or a ‘right’ to existing public spaces. Corruption and violence is used to control these spaces and crime is rampant.

For this reason, we see a clear need to provide a positive alternative. Jointly initiated and organized by Placemakers and International New Town Institute, the "Making Cities Together" project brings together international urban planners to brainstorm, together with local experts and stakeholders, and design a placemaking project in Nairobi that will meet an urgent and specific need, provide a renewed sense of shared ownership and act as a replicable model for future projects that desire to reclaim public space as a useful, beautiful aspect of the city.


Placemaking - Making Cities Together

Placemaking, is a community-based co-creation approach to revitalise public space with local knowledge, ideas and assets. In Nairobi, participation in development of successful public spaces is already taking place (in an ad-hoc manner) through organisations like UN-Habitat, Nairobi City Planning Department, local initiatives, etc. However, those placemaking movements face serious challenges. Citizens are not used to being involved or active in their urban environment and trust between all parties has to be built up over time.


The "Making Cities Together" project is a year-long, international professional knowledge exchange and capacity-building project in concert with our focus on Habitat. We will research local placemaking initiatives, connect them and develop strategies to improve them through co-creation. We will actively implement one of the scenarios that results from an international design workshop to experiment and show an innovative strategy to improve an existing placemaking initiative. This process will then become a working model for future placemaking initiatives in Nairobi—giving locals a clear way forward to implement bottom-up, participatory projects and thus creating a ripple effect.


Expected results

The intended results are ambitious, but not unrealistic. The committed partners behind the "Making Cities Together" project hope to achieve real change on the ground in Nairobi. By collaboratively building a concrete architectural solution to a local challenge and thereby reinvigorating a public space, this project will provide a real model for other urban pioneers who may wish to make changes but not know where to start. By publishing our process and project details online, we will provide a platform for dialogue, knowledge sharing and interaction that does not yet exist in this city.


Research approach


  1. Location research: together with local students we visualise local initiatives and their networks (social context map) and create an online and offline platform.
  2. Creation workshop: In an international workshop we design strategies to showcase possibilities of strengthening actual Placemaking projects.
  3. Implementation workshop: we determine a course of action to implement one of the strategies on a small scale.





Contact information

IFHP Project Manager, Giulia Maci:


Related research

>> Making Cities Together