KDI-Kenya has recently initiated a new set of projects within the growing Kibera Public Space Project (KPSP) network that look specifically at creating “Productive Public Learning Spaces” – developed on the same principles as KPSP but with a programmatic focus on education. This September we have started design workshops with the Anwa Junior Academy (pictured here).
In July 2015 Engineers Without Borders UCL spent a month as volunteers with KDI and were able to contribute to the early stages of project development and selection, as explained in this guest post by EWB-UCL volunteer Shane Mann:
We all worked together to initiate the first and important part of what will form KDI’s first Productive Public Learn Space (PPLS). KDI Kenya began exploring the possibility of undertaking its first school regeneration project in April 2015. While the organisation has completed and currently runs a number of projects, this being its first school project means this represents somewhat of a step into the unknown.
As with many of these projects, it’s not the outcome that’s the most difficult to get right but the process in getting there – not the result but the journey; a journey not just for the project but for the organisation too.
This journey began with a crucial early stage – site analysis, which serves to get to grips with the characteristics of the site, its strengths and weaknesses, its costs and benefits, how it can be improved, and in the case of a school, how the school is organised and run. After initial research and a shortlisting process, KDI narrowed down 17 schools to 2 schools.
At this stage, KDI enlisted our assistance as three Engineers without Borders (EWB) volunteer students from University College London (UCL) with backgrounds in civil engineering, architecture and urban planning to join the school project sub-team, with the aim of completing this stage over the course of one month’s stay in Nairobi.
As a team, we team identified 3 levels of analysis: a macro level desk study involving issues of the schools’ interaction with the wider communities; intermediate level analysis concerning issues around the school compound, such as access; and micro level analysis focussing more on smaller scale aspects within the school structures, such as use of space and safety. Our analysis included desk study on topography, land use and culture and once complete, the team visited both schools in Kibera.
The visit helped us better understand the schools’ needs and priorities so that these could be targeted so the regeneration project meets the needs of all users, especially the most vulnerable groups. Gaining this understanding included site surveys and questionnaires aimed at students and staff.
What was immediately apparent from our visits was the passion of the teachers and the dedication of the schools to provide education to almost 400 students in spite of the various challenges they face.
Upon visiting both schools, our team recorded the site analysis in the form of a presentation and comprehensive report consisting of the outcomes, strengths and weaknesses and separate recommendations for both schools as to how they could potentially be improved. This helped the KDI Kenya team to choose to work with Anwa Junior Academy for the school regeneration project, with construction due to start in the coming months.
Since writing this blog KDI has started design work with the Anwa Junior Academy on our first “Productive Public Learning Space”. We have also entered into discussion with a major donor on the development of a second “Productive Public Learning Space” in Kibera. The work that EWB-UCL produced was highly useful in underpinning solid decision-making in support of KDI’s engaged approach.
Please check out a summary presentation of the feasibility study developed by EWB-UCL here: Final_Presentation_ANWA_SILOAM.
About Guest KDI-Kenya Blogger:
Shane Mann (MEng Civil Engineering) | Site Engineer with VINCI Construction UK on London’s Crossrail Project and recent graduate civil engineer from University College London (UCL).
About Shane’s EWB-UCL Team Members:
With a background in architecture and as a master’s candidate in environmental design and engineering, Afaf Azzouz is passionate about holistic approaches to environmental design within buildings.
Yanny Tsang is a first year BSc student in Urban Planning, Design and Management from Hong Kong.