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Architectural Design Methods For Urban Sustainability


There is an implementation gap between the architectural design framework of Eastleigh District Commercial Centre EDCC) with the development of the centre leading to higher building densities and deteriorating infrastructural provision rendering both physical and social infrastructure inadequate to support the high building densities and the development of EDCC as an integrated secondary commercial center. This problem was the basis of the aim of my research drawing lessons for planning and design of EDCC based on compliance of developments to the planning ordinances. Different samples were studied in physical infrastructure, social infrastructure and buildings. Samples studied in the physical infrastructure included road and drainage system, water and sewerage system, solid waste management. Those of social infrastructure included business activities in space, education facilities, health facilities, housing facilities, and markets facilities. Building densities as controlled by plot ratio, plot coverage and building line where the elements I studied in building developments. I chose the above samples randomly. From my filed work analysis, I found out that the 2008 policy plan was not implemented hence both physical and social infrastructure is not efficient as envisioned in the policy paper. The building densities surpass the ordinance densities. This influenced my conclusions that developments in EDCC do not comply with the planning ordinances. Therefore, I recommend inclusion of other stakeholders like developers, architects, planners, urban designers, and private sector to be part of the planning team and follow the strategic planning process to the latter. The planning team should also consider developing form based codes to be used in parallel with zoning ordinances as literature shows there is better compliance with three dimensional form based codes than two dimensional zoning ordinances.





Planning and design of urban areas is important to ensure conformity andbalance of the built environment (Bailey 1975). Nairobi has been plannedusing the comprehensive urban planning approach. Comprehensive urbanplanning is used as a ‘design” where by the planners are seen as architectswhodevelopcomprehensivemasterplans(Taylor,1998).

The master plans for the city of Nairobi which have had an impact in architectural designing of Eastleigh District Commercial Centre are the 1948 master plan and 1973 Nairobi Metropolitan Growth Strategy.

In the 1948 master plan, Nairobi was classified into zones with functionalism as the main principle for the zoning. Racial zoning was rationalized as “the need to achieve a disease free environment with minimum of public expenditure (Amis 1980:86). This factor led to Eastleigh district to be dominated by Kenyan Somalis where they had been moved in 1920 following the 1914 Simpson report after the plague in the Indian bazaar recommending segregation of the races that had congregated in Nairobi.


The 1973 Nairobi Metropolitan Growth Strategy proposed decentralization and development of alternative service centers within the different districts of the city to reduce the high (employee) density in the Central Area. Associated with each of the main areas for new housing would be one or more industrial areas and a large commercial center.




It is evident that comprehensive architectural design has been used in architectural design of EDCC through strategic urban planning in developing policy plans. The urban structure of EDCC is on a grid plan and zoning ordinances are used to guide developments in the study area. This study is therefore based on a background of problems associated with the compliance of developments with the above architectural design.


Globally, there are challenges associated with comprehensive urban planning and master plans. Comprehensiveness and rationality in urban planning try to define future end-states and goals that strongly depart from the current situation (Lindblom and Bay Brooke, 1963). It is difficult for planners to predict effects of alternatives that depart strongly from the current situation and a master plan is not flexible enough to take into account other developments in future. The master plan’s two dimensional nature causes the problem of unifying it with architecture pattern and form which is three dimensional. Comprehensive urban planning focuses too much on design leaving the social, political and economic aspects of the urban society.

Additionally, strategic urban planning used in developing the policy plans for EDCC has theoretical problems. Theoretically, strategic urban planning was adapted from the military to business sector before its use in public planning. Private and public arenas have different settings in the political arena, public arena and control and monitoring mechanisms. As a result of these differences strategic planning concepts from the business sector can be used in the public sector, on condition that planners take into account the political arena, the public arena and the formal processes and regulations that ensure democratic decision-making (Nutt and Backoff1995; Stone, Bryson and Einsweiler, 1988)

As stated by Bernstein 1994, implementations of the master plans and policy plans are affected by the general inefficiency associated with majority of the developing countries’ land policies, and the absence of


secure tenure, adequate land management capacity, inappropriate instruments and weak institutional measures, (Bernstein; 1994).

The grid urban planning applied in EDCC has its theoretical problems. According to Camillo Siite (Camillo, 1889) grids lack variety and, consequently, are uninteresting and can become oppressive by their monotony. Grid system causes congestion at intersections and vulnerability of pedestrians. The long travel distances in grid urban planning consumes large pieces of land with the inherent high street and intersection frequencies producing large areas of impermeable surfaces in street pavement and sidewalks.




There is an implementation gap between the architectural design framework of Eastleigh District Commercial Centre with the development of the centre. Lack of implementation of the policy plans and zoning ordinances in the development of the Centre is leading to higher building densities and deteriorating infrastructural provision rendering both physical and social infrastructure inadequate to support the high building densities and the development of EDCC as an integrated secondary commercial center.

In particular physical infrastructure including roads and drainage system, water and sewerage system, solid waste management system have not been developed as planned in the 2008 policy plan. Additionally, social infrastructural services like business activity spaces, education facilities, health facilities, housing facilities, market facilities have not been provided as planed in the 2008 policy plan. Building densities including

plot coverage and plot ratio, building lines and setbacks are happening in disregard to the urban zoning ordinances.




The aim of this study is to compare the architectural design frameworks with the developments of EDCC by analyzing the architectural design used in EDCC through reviewing the urban planning and approaches, assessing developments in EDCC against the architectural design and thereof drawing lessons for architectural design practice of EDCC. To attain this aim, the following were the objectives of the study;

  1. To review the architectural design used in Eastleigh District Commercial
  2. To assess the developments against the architectural design for urban sustainability so as to establish the degree of
  • To bring up the implications of the degree of compliance and the lessons for architectural design thereof



To attain the above aims and objectives the study sought to answer the following research questions:

  1. Which architectural design method is used in planning and designing EDCC and how is it being applied?
  2. Are the developments in EDCC compliant to the architectural design ordinances of EDCC?
  • What lessons can we learn from the planning and development outcomes in the study area?




The comparison of architectural design framework with the developments of EDCC is significant to the planning team in assessing the degree of success in guiding the development of the commercial centre. The architectural design lessons hereof brought out can be used by the planning team as guidelines on developing architectural design framework for Eastleigh District Commercial Centre and other commercial Centers in Urban areas in Kenya. In addition, the lessons thereof learned become essential contribution to architectural design in general.




The study covered a geographical area referred to as Eastleigh District Commercial Center as delineated by the 1989 policy plan for zone two which was defined by the Eastleigh District strategy of 10th May, 1989.



Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with the control of the use of land and design of the urban environment, including transportation networks, to guide and ensure the orderly development urban environment.

Urban design is the collective term used to  describe the process of designing and shaping cities and towns. It addresses the larger scale of groups of buildings, streets and public spaces to make urban environment functional and attractive.

The grid plan is a type of urban plan with a focus on plans in which the street networks run almost or at right angles to each other, forming a grid of network.

Strategic urban planning is a type urban planning process that involves interdependency of all stakeholders including public participation with planning experts in coming up with regulations guiding the built urban environment considering strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the process and outcome.

Form based code is a land development regulatory tool with a focus on shapes, forms and image, that places primary emphasis on the physical form of the built environment with the end goal of producing a specific type of place.


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