CITIES TO BE TAMED? Standards and alternatives in the transformation of the urban South location:Milan date:15-17 November 2012
The history of public housing provision in Nairobi is synonymous with the history of urban development in Nairobi's Eastlands. The mid 1920s saw the start of an exceptional six decade period during which a series of large scale public housing projects, including Nairobi’s sites and services, were constructed in the east of the city. Sites and services attempted to master the city by determining the terms of incorporation into the city for the disenfranchised urban dweller, with the attainment of 'urban order' as the ultimate utopian goal. They represent a singular convergence between pragmatism and idealism in that they engage with the contextual realities of need and yet impose an ideology of what the city should be. Today, these projects have been extensively transformed from their original plans. By using the notions of ‘Framing’ and ‘Reframing’ to analyse the planning and transformation of three former sites and services in Eastlands, the paper reflects upon the role of ‘the state apparatus’ in intervening in a context where ‘informality’ is the mode of producing urban space.