This was built using Ushahidi, a Kenyan-developed, open-source web platform that was developed in the aftermath of the post-election violence that Kenya witnessed in 2007-2008 and enabled users to annotate a Google Map, to register an event in place and in time. 

 

A technologically simple, conceptually powerful, this platform seemed ideal for Urban Mirror. It is open, anybody can annotate a map, and it seemed to be the perfect form for registering and representing active, public spaces. An existing spatial practice, community use of public spaces, could now be collectively represented, telling a story which would otherwise not have been visible outside of that space, and linking lots of separate initiatives into a city-wide phenomenon.

 

Although most of Nairobi's citizens have access to the internet, this is generally via data bundles on their phone and for many it is still expensive, hence the open platform had financial barriers to entry. To counter this we set up physical 'drop-boxes' where citizens could fill in a paper form with all of their information regarding their public space.

I LOVE NAIROBI (collaboration with Urban Mirror)

 

 

Urban Mirror was a collective of public space activists from Nairobi which developed as a response to the threat to public space that comes from both the private and the public sector. Nairobi is experiencing a huge property boom, which has consequences for active public spaces across the city, which are often illegally 'grabbed' for commercial development.

 

As a result bazes, and other grassroots community-organised spaces, are constantly being closed-down and moved on. Urban Mirror approached this contested issue both by developing a participatory map to register active public and cultural spaces and by commissioning artists to develop artworks in response to certain areas. 

 

If we understand the dominant and official spatial narrative of Nairobi to be determined by the commercial property market and controlled by the Nairobi City Council (N.C.C), then Urban Mirror can be seen as trying to represent a counter-narrative; the use of spaces in Nairobi by people, groups and subcultures. Urban Mirror developed an online participatory platform, which was open for any individual to contribute to. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

samhopkins.org