University of Nairobi Conferences Portal, Innovation Research Symposium 2017

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Harnessing Cultural Heritage for Locally Relevant Interior Design Solutions for New Apartments in Nairobi
Collins Makunda

Last modified: 2017-12-04


Nairobi is currently experiencing a mushrooming of high-rise apartments intandem with Kenya’s growing economy and expanding middle class in the urbanareas. This phenomenon is keenly evident in historically low-density residential areasin the western part of Nairobi. It is a transformation driven by a high demandfor housing in a city with a rapidly growing population and rising incomes. Whilethese apartments contribute to alleviating the need for housing, their interior designsrepresent a missed opportunity for innovative and culturally relevant spatial solutions.They are reflective of global North perspectives on apartment living and materialfinishes. This paper argues that there is a need to re-evaluate how we approach theinterior design of these apartments since the new apartments provide an opportunityto develop innovative and culturally relevant spatial solutions for interior spaces thatreflect the unique identity of the local African cultural context in the global South.

Relevance to innovation. The paper introduces the concept of appropriate localcultural heritage as an important factor for consideration, and incorporation inthe design process, as an integral basis for the development of more creative andinnovative interior design spaces for apartments in the global South. The issue isexplored through the discussion of new apartments currently under development in aneighborhood in the western suburbs of Nairobi; the purpose being to provoke debateon ways in which the European-inspired apartment interior designs and finishes couldbe re-conceptualized to generate interior design solutions that are better suited forthe African context of Nairobi.

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