Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
Ideas of what constitutes a great place, like many other things, differ across cities, countries, and cultures. What does not change, however, is the notion that a public place should be a community gathering place, a point of access, and a safe space for all.
In one of the largest slums on the African continent, the people of Kibera are pursuing these goals. In 2009, the Map Kibera Trust project began a participatory mapping process to document the existing streets, sanitation, safe spaces, and community zones in an effort to formalize the community’s presence in space. The initial maps, painted on blank walls by community members, eventually turned into digital renderings, helping to—quite literally—put Kibera on the map.
In recent years, efforts between community representatives and outside partners have facilitated the creation of multiple public spaces and much-needed infrastructural projects. The Kibera Public Space Project, a network of holistic community-led public spaces created by residents and Kounkuey Design Initiative, is one such example.
Pedestrian bridges, built over the Ngong River, allow residents to travel outside of Kibera, where many are employed. Previously, flooding each year and the poor state of the bridge adjacent to Kibera Public Space Project 05—one of the primary access points between Kibera and the surrounding area—created hazardous conditions that made travel difficult. A new bridge and wayfinding signage designed and built by KDI and residents have made the linkages more safe and enjoyable. The teams executing these and similar projects are also planning to incorporate public art into the space.
Projects like this footbridge not only create linkages and safe spaces for Kiberans, but also are a critical step in formalizing and legitimizing the community’s fragile existence through acceptance by official government bodies.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
Across many cultures and times – since the beginning of civilization, in fact – the street has held vast social, commercial, and political significance as a powerful symbol of the public realm.