8 Oct 11 // Buchpräsentation „From 19th Century Berlin to 21st Century Nairobi: Tenement Cities“ // Pro qm Berlin

From 19th Century Berlin to 21st Century Nairobi: Tenement Cities

Bookpresentation with Marie Huchzermeyer

8. Oktober 2011 // 20:30 // Pro qm Berlin

Am morgigen Samstag findet nach der sehr gelungenen Buchvorstellung am Donnerstag eine weitere Buchpräsentation in der gut sortierten Buchhandlung Pro qm statt. Diesmal stellt Marie Huchzermeyer ihr Werk über Tenement Cities vor – präsentiert von metroZones:

Nairobi today has over 10 000 multi-story tenement buildings, many offering single rooms and up to eight stories high. Privately owned and exploiting urban space to the maximum, these bear similarities to housing in 19th century tenement cities – New York, Glasgow, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin and others. The urban literature almost exclusively associates private tenements as a dominant housing form with these rapidly industrializing 19th century cities. The book explores the emergence of tenement markets across time and space. It focuses in particular on Berlin, the largest and densest concentration of tenements in the late 19th century, and Nairobi, a city today increasingly shaped by tenement investment and displaying pockets of what may well be the highest residential densities on the African continent.

In examining similar themes across Berlin and Nairobi, the book asks what legitimizes and delegitimizes tenement markets over time. It interrogates the relevance of the late 19th and early 20th century housing discourse in Berlin, within its turbulent context, for an analysis of Nairobi’s tenement context today where no explicit discourse exists. Nairobi’s tenement market is characterised by entrepreneurialism, regulatory breakdown, corruption, growing vigilantism and ethnic division amid renewed hope of democratization. The city’s modern urban plans, housing policy and city-region strategy wish tenements away, whereas the academic discourse has focused almost exclusively on ‘slums’ or informal settlements.

In this analysis Tenement Cities grapples with the tension between, on the one hand, timeless urban qualities and convenience that come with density, permeable gridiron layouts and street-facing commercial activity and, on the other hand, deprivations that result from the maximum exploitation of urban space by tenement investors operating in a context of massive housing demand and democratic deficit. The book raises important questions about justice and a right to the city in a tenement-dominated context which itself has an uncertain future.

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