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Title: Situating the concept of sustainable design in Nairobi, Kenya
Author: Ngeno, Faith C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9351 8713
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2020
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This research investigates the linguistic and material conditions which are currently shaping debate on sustainability and ‘green architecture’ in Nairobi, Kenya. Recently, there has been an ongoing discussion on sustainability and so-called 'green architecture' in Kenya. However, unsurprisingly, the discourse around sustainability is strongly influenced by theoretical concepts and legal regulations produced by and applied in Western Europe, the USA and Australia. This research argues that it is counteractive to discuss sustainable design without asking sustainable for who and by what means. Therefore, it explores the antagonistic relationship between contextual diversity and standardisation of the concept of sustainability within the built environment. The current discourse depicts a disappointing lack of language, theoretical framework and cultural references embedded within the lives and common practices of Kenyans. Therefore, the need to develop context-based urban landscapes in and by Kenyans that are reflective of their contextual dynamics has not only become opportune but critical. The research argues that in order to construct a situated concept, there must be a critical understanding of contextual dynamics coupled with an appreciation of how these dynamics influence perceptions, assumptions, misconceptions and ultimately the articulation of this concept in the built environment. The research will engage with traces and examples of 'sustainable' practices both in popular discourse and in constructed artefacts (buildings, elements of infrastructure etc.) in order to propose a new (or very old) narrative of and for Kenya to face challenges of a dramatically changing climate and incoming ecological catastrophe. Through a post- constructivist lens, the study adopted a grounded theory approach for data inquiry and analysis. Having gained an understanding of the context -Nairobi- through document analysis, exploratory focus group discussions with academia and industry stakeholders were conducted as a foundation for data collection. Subsequently, in- depth, interviews with key stakeholders in Nairobi’s building industry were conducted. Finally, data collected from the antecedent methods informed the selection and the analysis criteria for four case building in Nairobi. Taking a grounded theory approach, the research entailed a cyclic continuous comparative analysis throughout the data collection and analysis stages in an attempt to establish emerging concepts, commonalities and variations among the cases and consequently generate theories on the construction of the concept of sustainable design in Nairobi. The study established an intersection between knowledge construction, power, legitimacy and the discourse of sustainability demonstrating the hegemonic nature of western knowledge when imposed and applied on other contexts, in this case Nairobi. Overally, this study offers a critique of the universal perspective demonstrating the importance of context in the construction and understanding of the concept of sustainable design.
Supervisor: Nawratek, Krzysztof ; Lawrence, Ranald Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available