Improving Mathare _ The Mark (University Project at Politecnico di Milano)

The project is based on a general analysis of the entire slum of Mathare (Nairobi, Kenya), which has highlighted the constructional and relational issues in the area. After analysing the most common services, infrastructure and local economy mechanisms, we have considered as a case study a slum district, Mabatini, focusing on the area along Mathare River. This is perceived as a strong border from both the geographical point of view, since it divides the northern Mathare from the south, but also from a cultural standpoint, acting as a border for several districts with different social characteristics. During the rainy season the site is subject to flooding. This is why the banks are under-exploited by the population: the only available functions are the spontaneous and disorganised gardens that allow owners self-maintenance by selling the products.


The aim of our project is to increase the agricultural economy already present on site in a more organised and coherent system, studying a prototype that can be reproduced in other areas along the river. Orchards, fenced and managed by local associations, are combined with large places available to the community which currently do not exist within the dense slum’s fabric. The working aspect merges with relational space which takes shape in a wooden walkway that is shaped along the Mathare river onto which, like the teeth of a comb, the squares are connected. These plates are characterised differently: welcoming spaces for playground, covered market for the sale of products and a multi-purpose step facility that can be set up for watching movies, shows or sport activities.


To ensure the sustainability of the system we have included tanks for the constructed wetland where rain water is collected and purified by plants becoming suitable for irrigation.

The Mark creates a connection between the different perspectives and realities of the neighbourhood by relating them; the linearity of the system is accentuated by the prospect of the shelters facing the river which are painted in bright colours, creating a clear ribbon colour guide along the walkway.

Immagine-A. Immagine-B.

Thea, Chiara e Laura.

This project is one of the outcomes of the university course: “Architectural Design Studio 3” directed by Camillo Botticini.


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