Korogocho urban community park is a small intervention in a larger community of development. Identity was utilized as a key element of design giving name, character, and community to an already carved out sense of place. The Hoperaisers Initiative provided an entry point into the Korogocho community. Through their work gathering children, youth and young adults around skating activities it became clear that ownership of streets, empowerment of key community stakeholders and engaging both the local and extended community could help re-define Korogocho neighborhoods. The new urban park provides a space for community oriented activities giving a place for essential community functions to occur; the intervention was seen as a three part process with each phase reclaiming and revitalizing a little more of the neighborhood and adjacent streets.
The project builds on Hoperaisers' current model of street occupation where the group blocks certain streets for skating competitions once a month, with an ongoing programme of free skating and training. Through an incremental approach the project seeks to increase the level of street activation in order to reclaim public space for community empowerment and social engagement. A three phase approach was developed to allow for an experimental design methodology that placed importance on the need to develop innovative strategies suited to the context of Korogocho in material use, economy of implementation and maintenance, as well as social integration.
- Phase 1 focuses on expanding street participation while analyzing the effectiveness of design interventions. Temporary design elements such as reclaimed furniture, portable planting beds or art installations – if possible, made by local producers from recycled materials in Korogocho – would be placed on the street during days of temporary street occupation. This would allow the community to understand the durability, appropriateness and effectiveness of streetscape interventions and allow them to decide which designs would be worth carrying forward on a permanent basis. This phase would also engage and educate the local community as well as stakeholders on the advantages of reclaiming public space.
- Phase 2 focuses on street reclamation through the permanent implementation of the interventions analyzed in Phase 1. Rehabilitation and pedestrianization of the street through the installation of these design features, as well as the enhancement of buildings facing the street, would create a narrative of Korogocho as a new symbol of development, taking pride in the character of its streets and the identity of the community. In this phase the community would work with already-formed groups – such as local chamas – to organize and mobilize community ownership of the streetscape. The urban park would be the nexus of this community cohesion bringing chamas, youth groups, organizations and neighbors together to manage and maintain the communal urban park.
- Phase 3 focuses on expanding this strategy into the alleyways which are a defining factor of informal housing. At this stage the growing culture of ownership and development would permeate into peoples homes beginning at their doorstep. Through interventions that light, link and beautify alleyways and courtyards, Korogocho would see an incremental shift of development that would begin with the community and transform the character, health and economy of the society. This phase would require a significant increase in the level of participation at the household level, and particularly by women, to extend the community's sense of ownership from inside their informal dwellings to the streets where they live. In the long-term this could support a much safer network of streets linking key locations, building on community empowerment to counteract the Korogocho's structural problems.