Nairobi Placemaking Week

It's amazing to see what impact beautiful art and public participatory art can make to improving the moods and community building efforts within the city.

TICAH celebrated Urban October and Placemaking Week (25-31 Oct) with partners and artists. Integrating TICAH’s Rika Residency (which brings together artists of different age sets, genders, and practices to connect and create) with partners working on urban health and climate change, the team collaborated to bring amazing community events and art to Nairobi’s city centre to celebrate the vibrancy of the city, to build community, to improve wellness and to have important conversations about the sustainability and future health of its inhabitants.

  • Urban October is an international event, an opportunity for everyone to be part of the conversation about the challenges and opportunities created by the fast rate of change in our cities and towns. Each October, everyone interested in sustainable urbanization holds or participates in virtual or physical activities, events, and discussions.  This year’s Urban October focused on the climate crisis.
  • Placemaking Week is one week 25-31 October, during Urban October. This week is dedicated to celebrating Nairobi’s public spaces and community-led activities, which are revolutionizing the use and experience of public spaces and the city at large.

We started the week with 25 amazing artists to explore street art in Nairobi’s city centre and to discuss topics important to street artists.  By the end of the week our group tripled in size to over 75 people who were all interested in the role of art in community building and urban health.  Some of these additional people were artists and some were former Nairobi mayors, partners from the city council, National Museums of Kenya staff and others.  It was amazing to see what an impact beautiful art and public participatory art can make to improving the moods and community building efforts within the city.  At one point during the week a policeman, street hawker and city council employee stood together quietly watching to see how the artists created their murals; no one disturbed the artists, instead a sense of unity and pride filled the air.  This scene happened over and over.  It was incredible.

The artists created several pieces on a bus stage waiting area, a busy side street, on planters and ramps for the disabled.  The week culminated in a weekend of art, participatory art and music at the Hilston Square Park at the centre of the city.  Artists created personal pieces on planters and together revamped the bench around the park with bright images of comfortable pillows and beautiful vines connecting all who sit on the bench.  The artists involved the public in the work, tracing their feet as they sat on the newly painted bench and filling in their footprints with paint to mark their places.  On the final day of the week, we celebrated with traditional music and dance, a small pop-up exhibition of work from the participating artists and a gathering of family and friends.

Thank you to the Nairobi Museum for hosting the team for the week.  It was wonderful to have you as part of this work.  Thank you to Safer Nairobi Initiative, Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the Nairobi County Government for the permissions and support that made this possible.  Thank you to UNHABITAT, the GoDown Arts Centre and all the other partners involved in the Urban October work; it’s been amazing to be part of the crew.  And thank you to all the participating artists who joined us for the week to create beautiful work and community in the city centre.

For more information about TICAH’s work in the arts, click here, check us out on Instagram, or email us at

See more pictures below by Jaymar Shot It and Suzanne Mieko.