Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

‘Our Changes’? Visions of the Future in Nairobi

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Abstract:  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.

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



© Constance Smith. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.