‘Our Changes’? Visions of the Future in Nairobi

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

‘Our Changes’? Visions of the Future in Nairobi

Constance Smith


In Kenya, the Vision 2030 masterplan is radically reimagining Nairobi as a ‘world class’ city of the future. This has generated dramatic digital imagery of satellite cities, skyscrapers and shopping malls. For tenants in rundown public housing, these glossy yet speculative visions are enticing, but also provoke anxieties of exclusion. Yet so far, little has materially manifested. This article explores the effects these future vistas produce in the present, in the gap between the urban plan and its implementation. It argues that the spectacle of official planning has generated anticipatory actions, as Nairobians’ engage with the future promised by such schemes. These actions are characterised by dissonant temporal experiences, in which local residents experience the future city as both near at hand and forever out of reach.


Kenya; megaprojects; Nairobi; temporality; urban planning; visual culture

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v2i1.834