The Role of the National Construction Authority in the Conservation of Vernacular Architectural Heritage

  • Mugwima B Njuguna, PhD Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology
  • Ephraim W Wahome, PhD Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology
  • Anne Marie Deisser, PhD University of Nairobi
Keywords: Vernacular Architecture, Heritage, Conservation, Kenya, National Construction Authority

Abstract

Vernacular architecture is a malleable concept that encompasses structures produced by empirical/ experiential builders. It is sometimes referred to as indigenous, primitive, ethnic or even architecture without architects. Vernacular architectural heritage often found in rural areas and historic urban areas and villages represent a cultural heritage that has been handed down from one generation to the next. This heritage is under threat from modernising forces which cause deterioration in cultural and historical continuity. It is important to conserve this architecture and associated technologies for posterity. Both tangible and intangible heritage of vernacular architecture is threatened through blatant negligence, emergent and more profitable modes of construction, and lack of funds for minimum maintenance. To a large extent, this heritage is quickly deteriorating and disappearing into the hands of vandals and illegal traders due to the lack of appropriate conservation, sensitisation and training for the public and heritage professionals in the conservation of materials and practices. The paper explores the vernacular heritage in Kenya, the state of its conservation and the risks associated with its conservation. It is argued that since NCA is mandated inter alia to undertake research into any matter relating to the construction industry, it should complement the efforts of the National Museums of Kenya in the conservation of cultural heritage in so far as materials and building technologies are concerned. There is no clear legal framework for the conservation of vernacular architecture in place and it is often lumped together with other popular forms of architecture which have well-defined and documented historical trends. Emphasis has been on urban architecture in Kenya. The paper established that vernacular heritage has only been haphazardly conserved, with no clear management, documentation and preservation policies. The paper found that no resources are specifically set aside for the conservation of these heritages. The theoretical analysis concludes that vernacular architecture in Kenya has been neglected and exposed to deterioration. It also points out that the level of public sensitisation on the heritage is low and its conservation and management needs have been ignored. The study, therefore, recommends public sensitisation, preventive and interventive conservation and appropriate policies to save the heritage from imminent loss. It further suggests that detailed documentation of vernacular building materials and technology should be undertaken as a matter of urgency.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Avrami, E. (2000). Values and heritage conservation. Conservation: The Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter, 15(2), 18-21.

Barton, H., Grant, M., & Guise, R. (2003). Shaping Neighbourhoods: a guide for health, sustainability and vitality. London: Spon Press.

Bernfeld, S. C. (1951). Freud and archeology. American Imago, 8(2), 107-128.

Cosgrove, D. E. (1994). Should We Take it so Seriously? In W.E. Krumbein, P. Brimblecomb, D. E. Cosgrove & S. Staniforth (Eds), Durability and Change. Science, Responsibility, and Cost of Sustaining Cultural Heritage. (pp. 259-266). Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

de-la Torre, M. (Ed.). (2002). Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage. Los Angeles, C.A. The Getty Conservation Institute.

Dobby, A. (1978). Conservation and Planning. London: Hutchinson and Co. Ltd.

Elkadi, H. A. (2006). Valuing local built heritage in a global setting: Identity & visual perceptions of cultural built heritage in Northern Ireland. In Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century Forum UNESCO: University and Heritage 10th International Seminar and Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress. Newcastle upon Tyne: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Feilden, B. M. (1979). An introduction to Conservation of Cultural Property. Rome: ICCROM.

Feilden, B. M. (1994). Conservation of Historic Buildings. Johannesburg: Reed Educational and Professional Publishing Ltd.

Feilden, B. M. (2003). Conservation of Historic Buildings. Oxford: Architectural Press, Elsevier.

Feilden, B. M., Jokilehto, J. (1998). Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites. Rome: ICCROM.

Fitch, J. M. (1990). Historic Preservation: Curatorial Management of the Built World. Virginia: The University of Virginia Press.

Forsyth, M. (2007a). The Past in the Future. In Forsyth, M. (Ed.), Understanding Historic Building Conservation (pp. 1-8). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Forsyth, M. (Ed.). (2007b). Understanding Historic Building Conservation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Government of Kenya (GOK). (2006). The National Museums and Heritage Act. Nairobi: Government Press.

Government of Kenya (GOK). (2011). The National Construction Authority Act. Nairobi: Government Press.

Highfield, D. (1987). Rehabilitation and Re-use of Old Buildings. London: E & F.N. Spon.

Highfield, D. (1991). The Construction of New Buildings Behind Historic Façades. London: Spon.

ICOMOS. (1964). Venice Charter. Retrieved from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), available at http://www.icomos.org/venice_charter.html

ICOMOS. (1999). Burra Charter. Retrieved from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), available at http://www.icomos.org/australia/burra.html

ICOMOS. (1999). Charter on the Built Vernacular Heritage. Retrieved from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), available at http://www.icomos.org/charters/vernacular_e.pdf

King, J., Procesi, D. (1990). A Conservation Plan for the Old Town of Mombasa, Kenya. Mombasa: Municipal Council & National Museums of Kenya.

Lang, J. (1988). Symbolic Aesthetics in architecture: Toward a Research Agenda. In J. K. Nasar (Ed.), Environmental Aesthetics. Theory, Research and Applications (pp. 11-26). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lowenthal, D. (1985). The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nasar, J. L. (1998) The Evaluative Image of the City. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Nasar, J. L. (2000). The Evaluative Image of Places. In Walsh, W. B., Craik, K. H., Price, R. H. (Eds), Person-Environment Psychology: New Directions and Perspectives (pp. 117-168). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Norberg–Schulz, C. (1980). Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. In Cody, J. & Siravo, F. (Eds), Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute.

Orbaşli, A. (2008). Architectural conservation: principles and practice. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd.

Roders, P. A. (2007). Re-Architecture: Lifespan Rehabilitation of Built Heritage. Eindhoven: Bouwstenen Publicatieburo.

Sarkar, I. (1994). Conservation Scenario in Kenya. Centre for Built Environment at Calcutta.

Sarkar, I. (1996). A Study on Conservation Issues-Does, our Past, Have a Future? Unpublished Report.

Tibbalds, F. (1992). Making people-friendly towns: Improving the public environment in towns and cities. London & New York: Spon Press.

Tschudi-Masden, S. (1985). Principles in Practice. Bulletin of the Association of Preservation Technology. (Association for Preservation Technology International). 17 (¾), 12-20.

Viňas, M. S. (2005). Contemporary Theory of Conservation. London: Elsevier.

Wilde, O. (1981). The Picture of Dorian Gray. London: Dent.

Published
10 July, 2020
How to Cite
Njuguna, M., Wahome, E., & Deisser, A. (2020). The Role of the National Construction Authority in the Conservation of Vernacular Architectural Heritage. East African Journal of Engineering, 2(1), 23-32. https://doi.org/10.37284/eaje.2.1.178