Changing Identities and Refunctionalisation of Heritage

A Case Study of Nairobi Clubhouse Demolition and Regeneration

  • Kassim Mwamba Omar
Keywords: Conservation, Heritage, Identity, Refunctionalisation, Regeneration, Sustainability


This research study sought to analyze the demolition and regeneration of the Nairobi Railways Clubhouse within the context of not only the evolution of Nairobi City as a major urban metropolis, but also continued evolution and re-functionalization of the country’s colonial heritage, with a view to understanding the changing meanings of the conserved cultural fabric and the identities it projects. The paper employed an exploratory methodology of both a case study analysis of the Nairobi Railways Clubhouse demolition and regeneration, together with a desktop archival review of the existing body of heritage conservation literature, with a view to identifying the changing identities and meanings within the country’s conserved heritage fabric. The review found out that the symbolism and meanings within the historic fabric of Kenyan colonial cultural heritage are evolving to support the changing identity aspirations of post-independent Kenya, and with this evolution, different social groups are appropriating aspects of colonial heritage to buttress their group identities within the larger post-independent Kenya identity. The paper therefore recommends that colonial heritage fabric ought to be studied and its lessons employed in conservation and management of the nation’s heritage while being anchored in the African context, so as to guarantee sustainability of the conservation process by giving a conserved fabric reflective of the society’s identity aspirations.