Morphological transformation is a feature of urban areas all over the world. However, in cities

in the global South, the nature of morphological transformation is profoundly influenced by the

rapid population growth and high urbanization rates currently being experienced (United Nations

Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), 2014; UN DESA, 2015).

A case in point is a city such as Nairobi, which is at the epicentre of a demographic boom. While

Kenya ́s population in 2019 was 47.56 million persons, Nairobi’s share of this population was

about 10% with a population of 4.4 million persons (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS),

2019). This represents a 40% increase or a growth by 1.26 million persons in a decade. The city also

makes up one-third of Kenya’s urban population (KNBS, 2019). In addition, in 2019, it accounted

for 12% of the country’s households with a total of 1.5 million households (KNBS, 2019).

Principle Instigator
Collins Sasakah Makunda

In this paper, we investigate the physical manifestation of ongoing urban habitat transformation in the

context of a residential neighbourhood, Kileleshwa, which is located in the western suburbs of Nairobi.

This is done through an analysis of the emergent morphology of the urban habitat by delving into various

levels of urban resolution: the street network, the plots, and the buildings, while tracing the roots of the

neighbourhood in the colonial era and its rapid change in the current millennium. In so doing, the aim

was to understand the degree to which these dimensions had undergone change as a consequence of

the urban transformation. The findings of the paper are that at the different levels – the street, plot, and

building – a variation in transformation has occurred, with a resultant increase in the density of the urban

habitat. This variation is explored in detail at these different levels of the neighbourhood’s urban tissue. In

shedding light on this ongoing transformation, the paper contributes to a deeper understanding of how an

urban habitat has actually transformed, as manifested in its physical outcomes, which have in turn set the

stage for the social transformation of the urban context.