Cave Bureau – Nairobi

On the programme this week we speak to the architects Kabage Karanje and Stella Mutegi, two of the three founding directors of Cave Bureau in Nairobi.

This episode was recorded in Nairobi as part of a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

Kabage Karanje (right) Stella Mutegi (centre) and Owen Wainhouse (left)

Kabage was born in Nairobi and later studied in the UK in Loughborough, in Brighton then at the University of Westminster.  He subsequently spent six years working for 3D Reid in London before returning to Nairobi where he worked for a number of practices before going on co-founding Cave.

Stella studied architecture at the University of Newcastle, near Sydney in Australia before returning to Kenya where she worked for a number of practices before ending up working in the same firm at Kagabe – some years later they were both made redundant which spurred their founding of Cave.

The practice they founded, with long-time friend Balmoi Abe in 2014 and draws much of its reference from the cave – mankind’s earliest architectural environment.   Much of their work too references region’s status as the cradle of humanity.

The city, they say, like the caves are dynamic and complex, both having changed over time, albeit with varying geological time times.

The name Cave Bureau – harks back to man’s fundamental need for shelter, which perhaps explains much of the firms work in places like Kibera, Nairobi’s largest informal settlement – or slum – where they’re currently working on a

Cave Burea’s beautiful office/art gallery, which they call The Cave, is in the Kilimani neighbourhood, just west of downtown.

I joined Stella and Kabage in a shared meeting room just above their office – the office’s beautiful polished concrete walls proved too acoustically taxing for this podcast’s array of microphones.

Music from this episode was from Peter Logono and Raw Music International: Kisumu Mixtape via the Free Music Archive, released under a creative commons licence.