The media center is a challenge to bring the youth of the African slums the necessary resources to advance their education and be competitive in today’s society. It is believed that if today’s youth is taught and has access to modern technological skills through a comprehensive facility, then as a result the slums will transform into a prosperous community with a promising future.
The proposed media center will achieve more than access to the Internet. The facility will breakdown the barriers that exist in the Nairobi slums today and help create a positive image that should resonate throughout the slums.
The new form rests upon a proposed stone platform. This foundation gives the site a strong sense of stability, permanence, and security rarely seen in the slums, and it efficiently resolves the existing site problems of standing water, and poor soil. The proposed platform also defines the outdoor recreational spaces and cleverly transforms into auditorium seating throughout the complex.
The new media center provides a beacon for the slums. The proposed facility is designed to brand the buildings function and create a new beginning for the mukuru kwa njenga slum. The structure cantilevers out over the streets of the slum grasping the antenna, marking the facilities entrance and creating an icon. The antenna symbolizes the outward reach toward the nearby city of Nairobi and creates a sense of place for the new facility.
By creating a building that functions as an outdoor pavilion the building maximizes natural ventilation. A flexible skin on the west portion of the complex allows for the building to open itself visually and physically to the exterior elements. A water collection tank creates the focal point of the design allowing the inhabitant to actively experience its sustainability. The collected water would be used in composting toilets and sinks in the facility with the possibility of providing water for the community. A built up wood structure clad in corrugated metal creates the building form, allowing for all the materials that exist on site today, to be reused for the new construction.
The media centers structure is designed with the construction method in mind. Structural trusses are built using simple overlapping connections vernacular to the existing conditions. However every truss is unique in its dimension, manipulating the ordinary, and artfully creating a symbolic form.
The building envelope is designed with a conscious understanding that the form consists of two parts, the overhead folding skin and the platform. All functions of the space loosely take place between these two elements. To secure the valuable items that exist within the structure, flexible furniture pieces allow for the technology to be locked when not being used, but fully functional and open during times of use. These elements also define the interior space, dividing the specific functions of the program.
The new media center has the potential of creating a new way of life for its community inhabitants, while making an overall effect on the mind, body, and soul. We see the opportunity to create more than a building, more than access to the Internet. We see the opportunity to change the image and celebrate the beautiful culture and life that exists in Nairobi today.