Ribbon Cutting


Feliz Otoño! With an exciting and challenging summer behind us, we've finally found a moment to bring you several, long overdue updates. Below are highlights from the field in Kenya, Haiti, and the United States. If you'd like to know more about any of these projects, please visit:

Our website: www.kounkuey.org
Our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/kounkuey
Our blog: blog.kounkuey.org

As ever, we would love to hear your feedback, which you can send to mail@kounkuey.org or leave as a comment on our Facebook page or blog.

Thank you for your interest in KDI!
Haiti Workshop sanitation block construction KPSP02
[Photos] left: Haiti Design Workshop, right: KPSP02 Sanitation Block Construction


KDI's Kibera Public Space Project is currently part of an exhibition at the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York through January 9, 2012. The exhibition, Design with the other 90%: CITIES, is the second in an ongoing series exploring design solutions for the 90% of the world's population that are not traditionally serviced by the design community. More information can be found at: http://other90.cooperhewitt.org

The online journal of architecture, Places, features an article by Cynthia Smith that discusses the Kibera Public Space Project along with other socially responsible design projects displayed at the Cooper-Hewitt's exhibition "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES". To read the article you can follow this link. You can read the New York Times Architecture Critic, Michael Kimmelman's coverage of the Exhibit here.


Chelina Odbert presented Kibera Public Space Project in an engagement at the United Nations in New York as part of the CITIES exhibition. She also presented on November 17th as part of a UN panel discussing the Right to the City: http://designother90.org/cities/events


KDI Principal Arthur Adeya spoke in Munich at the Institute for Advanced Study Metropolis Informal Symposium, "Landscape, Infrastructure and Urbanism in the Global South." The Symposium, which took place on October 13–14, considered the modes of operation of practitioners, academics and public agencies working in the non-formal city. For more info: http://www.tum-ias.de/metropolis-nonformal-symposium/introduction.html


In June of this year we became an official public charity with a 501c3 status. All donations to KDI are now tax-deductible!


In August KDI received a grant from The California Endowment for our project at the St. Anthony Trailer Park in the Eastern Coachella Valley. The grant is part of The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities Initiative and will support the construction and program implementation of the St. Anthony PPS, KDI's first US-based project.


In July, Principal Chelina Odbert, along with 10 other finalists from the Ashoka Changemakers Sustainable Urban Housing Competition, was invited to participate in the HUD/Rockefeller Foundation Sustainable Housing Conference, in Washington, D.C. Incredible firms from all over the world met to share ideas and advance innovative ideas in urban development.


This summer we have nearly doubled in size thanks to our interns and volunteers. In Los Angeles Mindy Hagan helped us with multiple research projects. In Kenya, Eric De Feo, Yumiko Ota, and Elena Archipovaite helped the community design and build playgrounds, laundry lines, and small businesses. Two Engineers Without Borders, Ann McKenzie and James Engwall, worked with the Kenya team to make the third site in our Productive Public Space Network possible – they designed flood control, drainage systems, and of course a playground. Finally, Mandy Senhen and Beth Fisher spent the summer in Kibera working on a training curriculum for our small business initiatives. The summer wouldn't have been possible without them! This fall we are joined by design intern Shannon Davis, development intern George Haugh, and research intern Frank Gao.
KPSP01 Community Center KPSP 03 chief Coachella Arts and crafts
KPSP01 Kiki Weavers KPSP03 Cheif Signing MOU KPSP03 New Construction St. Anthony Art Workshop


Mandy Senhen and Beth Fisher provided micro-finance, accounting, and small-business training for the site's business groups. A demonstration of just one step KDI is making to support the small enterprises at each site as they become self-organized and self-sustaining. Finally, NNDC Group (the community group that runs KPSP 01) has successfully lobbied the city officials to install lights to improve the site's safety at night.


On August 6th KDI and Riverside Usafi Group (RUG) held an Opening Celebration at KPSP 02 to commemorate the completion of the site. The site is anchored by: a flood control system, a sanitation center - with six toilets, four showers, and a public water tap, a playground, and three kiosks. The community group (RUG) has successfully launched two small enterprises: The Bahati Bakery (a women's baking co-op), and a brick-makers cooperative.

KPSP 03 & 4

Our RFP Process held in early spring of this year, yielded two new community partners and sites for KPSP03 and KPSP04. The KDI Kenya team and Interns have spent the summer engaged in the community design process and construction of the KPSP 03 site is now underway. The project design includes: a poultry farm, drainage, flood control, a community center to house a school and clinic, kiosks, and of course a playground.


Community design workshops continue in the Eastern Coachella Valley. In November, we formally launched the project with a community BBQ. There we introduced our newest partner, University of California Cooperative Extension – Riverside County, who will facilitate a nutrition education program as part of the project. To view pictures from the community BBQ go here.


We have two projects underway in the coastal village of Bonneau, Haiti. The first is a project with Tête Ensemble, a 75-member community group, to reinvigorate the town's current market square and introduce new amenities to meet the community's priority needs. In June, the local government gave KDI and Tête Ensemble official permission to improve and manage the site. Our second project, a collaboration with SMAQ Architecture, for the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission is the design of an academy that will house the largest special-needs children's school in Haiti, a home for the elderly, a church, and kitchen garden. Design is now underway.
KDI Summer Team


KDI began in 2006 as a discussion among six Harvard Design School students about the relevance of the design professional in areas negatively affected by poverty. Today, KDI is an innovative international partnership specializing in the practices of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and urban planning. KDI believes that participatory planning and design are key to sustainable development. By working collaboratively with communities from conception through implementation we build on their ideas, enhance them with technical knowledge and design innovation, and connect them to extant resources. In doing so, KDI empowers communities to advocate for themselves and address the major physical, social and economic challenges they face.
drainage before

drainage after


Each donation to Kounkuey Design Initiative helps to sustain and grow the network of Productive Public Spaces we are building with communities around the world. A donation as small as $1,000 can help launch a business, construct a toilet, or build a playground. Direct and tax-deductible donations can be made online here.

Support one of the KPSP 01 small enterprises - Kiki Weavers - directly by buying their handwoven baskets made from water hyacinth on Etsy.

You can also look for volunteer opportunities with KDI here.

[Photos] left top: KPSP03 Drainage Before Intervention, left bottom: KPSP03 Drainage After Intervention