Planners Urged to Innovate for Sustainable Built Environment

Participants during the function

Urban planners and architects have been challenged to be more innovative in order to assist cities attain economic, social and environmentally friendly sustainability.

The Coordinator, Urban Environment, Planning and Design Branch at the UN Habitat, Mr. Rafael Tuts said this in his opening remarks to participants during a two- day conference themed: “Promoting Sustainable Built Environment” organized by the School of Architecture and Building Sciences, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Thursday, October 10, 2013.

He observed that in the next 15- 20 years, about 1.4 billion new citizens worldwide will be urbanized and the slum population will increase.  “Today, out of the existing urban population, 1 billion people live in slums. If nothing is done, we will see these numbers go up to 1.5 billion people in the next decade,” Mr. Tuts warned.

The UN Habitat official further emphasized that if no action is taken in Africa, the slum population will make up 72% of the total urban population. He thus rooted for the conference’s import noting, such a forum brings together like-minded professionals from the industry and education from across the world and could come up with proactive resolutions that could address the emerging urban challenges.

Mr Tuts hailed the UN-Habitat and JKUAT’s existing close working ties and partnership between the two parties particularly in creating an Urban Studies Centre; developing an Urban Design Masters Curriculum and internships,  in addition to involving JKUAT students in the Nairobi Master Plan and that of Silanga, Kibera in Nairobi.

In a speech read on behalf of the Chief Architect, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Architect Cosmas Maweu, the Principal Superintending Architect Arch. Ralph Ochieng said the conference presented many opportunities for gathering and sharing new knowledge and creating sustainable construction concept such as low cost housing and urged participants to disseminate the knowledge and ideas gained from the conference for socio-economic development.

Mr. Tuts giving his key note address at the conference

He further advised the participants that the rich research data bank should be maintained for use by entrepreneurs, industrialists and future researchers.

In her address, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga underscored the significance of the conference in promoting the built environment, issues in architecture, environment, technology and society at large.  “The importance of such talks lies in identifying and strengthening opportunities for partnerships and collaboration towards creating and managing sustainable built environments,” Prof Imbuga, observed.

The Vice Chancellor lauded the conference organizers for honouring JKUAT to host the conference, and observed that “It was a clear demonstration of the high regard the International fraternity of architects have for JKUAT. It is a cause that we highly welcome since it fosters our Vision in which we endeavor to be “A University of global Excellence in Training, Research and Innovation for Development.”

Prof Imbuga further recollected the achievements realized so far by the School of Architecture and Building Sciences which include the admission of pioneer first year students under its new Bachelor of Quantity Surveying programme and supporting the establishment of a Centre for Urban Studies in partnership with UN-Habitat.

The conference was, among others,  also graced by the Chairman Construction Authority, Mr. Steven Oundo, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Extension and Production Prof. Esther Kahangi and the Dean, School of Architecture and Building Sciences Dr. Susan Kibue.

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