Community spaces play vital roles in enhancing community cohesion, promoting public health and biodiversity, addressing climate change, as well as enhancing the value and appeal of the built environment.
Green infrastructure in urban areas, which implies a network of open green spaces within the built environment, is a major component of community spaces as it serves as a carbon sink for enhancing urban air purification. It also enhances the aesthetic appeal of urban areas and further provides opportunities for regeneration. Open spaces serve as tourist attraction sites as well as places for safeguarding urban identity and nurturing culture. However, community spaces do not merely encompass green infrastructure, but include other spaces and locations within commercial, recreational and residential zones that possess a distinct character that results into such spaces being attractive nodes for community gatherings.
Community spaces comprise of parks, residential playgrounds, school playgrounds, sports stadia, green spaces, public squares, street markets, high streets, shopping precincts, community centres, as well as building verandah extensions. Community spaces play crucial roles of enhancing social interactions by enhancing gathering of communities around such places.
The city of Nairobi as a prime urban area in Kenya, and the East African region experiences immense internal and external urban pressures that affect the social, environmental, physical and economic balance of the city and its residents.
Community spaces in the city of Nairobi have played a significant role in the management of existing urban pressures through some of the following ways;
- Environmental purification by acting as carbon sinks to rid the air of carbon emitted by vehicles, as well as residential, commercial and industrial activities.
- Stress management among the urban population by providing places of new experiences and relaxation
- Population health management by providing play and exercise areas for communities
- Enhancing city aesthetics through landscaping along streets, public waterways and along building verandahs
- Promoting citizen participation in leadership and governance issues by providing community forum areas
Some of the notable community spaces in the city of Nairobi, at the civic level, include Uhuru Park, Central Park, Aga Khan Walk, Kasarani Safaricom Stadium, Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi Arboretum, Uhuru Gardens, Sarakasi Dome, Tom Mboya monument site at the Kenya National Archives and building verandah extensions along Wabera and Mama Ngina streets near Nairobi City Hall.
Pascal Odirah, CURI.