Don Orione Community Centre offers an invaluable service to mentally and physically disabled children in Ongata Rongai; a dusty dry small town on the outskirts of Nairobi.
The landscape design seeks to provide simple elements for the children and staff with the minimal budget available to the school and centre.
Key elements such as paths for ease of circulation and trees to provide shade are key to our landscape design. These two elements, “movement and shade” dictated our design.
Such two humble offerings have transformed the lives of the children who interact daily with the trees and plants and can visit all elements of the school and farm easily, a dramatic change to the muddy and dusty surroundings.
Ongata Rongai is a town on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The Don Orione Community Centre was built here to try and help as many children as possible in the bubbling town and surrounding region.
A visit to the The Don Orione Community Centre in Ongata Rongai in Kenya is always an inspiring venture. Disabilities are considered a curse within Kenyan culture and as a result many disabled children are badly mistreated. The work at the centre is crucial and valuable.
The Don Orione school and farm sits on a 10 acre site and consists of a school for the children, with onsite physiotherapy clinic that provides regular sessions for the children, and a successful vegetable farm that offers the children a means to sustain themselves once they leave school.
The key elements of the brief was to improve the disabled access over the whole site, to consider how we could improve the stimulus for the children and to improve the general environment by planting trees and providing shade.
Our intervention, although simple covers the full site. The design intent saw paths and ramps made with local stone which move throughout the whole site. Avenues of trees grace all pathways as a humble intervention to try and make the journey for the disabled children as calming as possible. The sense of repetition is a purposeful tool that provides a sense of texture and rhythm to the space, but most a feeling of security and reassurance that is soothing for the children.
The choice for the species for the avenue trees throughout the whole project is the indigenous Markamia lutea which was chosen for its rich green foliage and bright cheerful flowers, again with the children’s well being in mind. Other planting includes a zone of indigenous drylands forest to create a buffer from the road and various food crops such as bananas and passion fruit. The reintroduction of indigos species has brought back the birdlife, filling the air with their song.
The trees were all planted by the parents with the children helping and the construction of the paths and ramps where built by a small local construction company using local slate (mazeras) stone. The sense of self ownership of the children and their families in this project is remarkable and exciting to see.