Did you know as late as the year 2000, State House had a simple fence?

[Photo: Courtesy]

Did you know that before insecurity became a real threat, there were no walls around Nairobi buildings.

The earlier architects designed buildings with front view facades that would give them aesthetic from passersby.

More like the American concept the Europeans who first put up permanent structures modelled them on the ones back home. Home owners were somehow proud to show off the beauty of their structures.

Did you know that as late as the year 2000, Kenya’s State House just had simple kei apple and cypress fencing which allowed anybody passing by to have a clear view of the vast and leafy compound.

Some government structures like the Parliament buildings, Office of the President, Office of the Deputy President, Jogoo House, High Court, Supreme Court, City Hall, Treasury, Central Bank have metal grills as opposed to solid stone walls.

With the threat of insecurity caused by previous terrorist attacks stone walls have become the perceived first line of security for most urban skycrapers.

The 1982 attempted coup in Nairobi, some houses were victims of mob attacks. That was also a turning point where home owners decided to erect high walls around their property.

Did you know that erecting a wall also deters property grabbers in Nairobi? Walls give semblance of ownership so ‘private developers’ hesitate when they see some sign of habitation with a wall and gate on any vacant property.   

After all the trouble trying to have the most beautiful and attractive front view of a building at its design stage, developers end up adding a wall around it hence concealing the entry, front garden, paved driveway or grass lawn.

To recreate the beauty of ungated compounds, designers have now come up with gated communities where several beautifully designed houses are allowed to flaunt their gloss but have one common wall around them for security purposes.

Walking along Nairobi neighborhood in the upmarket areas can be very boring due to the carved stones and sometimes ugly walls securing different individual compounds.

Did you know that in Senegal, the Ministry of Housing and the city and town councils partner in beautifying the streets? The allow artists to showcase their drawing and painting skills on the walls. They also accept graffiti as long as it is of abstract art or painting. Walking along the streets of Dakar is a journey through an art museum.

In the entire Germany, artists are allowed to play around with free space on walls. It is common to see beautiful creativity on walls near bridges, flyovers and old buildings.

Did you know that County governments can draw revenue from artists by allowing them to showcase their talent on walls that line up neighborhoods in most cities. Instead of commercial wall branding that promotes consumer products, artistic work can be the next revenue streams for urban planners.

 


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