The GoDown Arts Centre

The GoDown Arts Centre

In the late 1990’s, The GoDown grew from the need for Kenyan and East African artists to come together in a creative hub. Places for creative production were scarce, exhibition venues even more so. Today, The GoDown is incubating an ambitious vision to develop a new arts centre that represents its diverse practitioners, audiences and tribal communities.

Strength in diversity

The strength of The GoDown as Kenya’s leading platform for cultural exchange lies in its programming diversity. Core activities of music, dance and arts run alongside major international conferences like The East African Art Summit, to local events, such as Dunda Mtaan youth festival and Nai Ni Who, and Creative Entrepreneurship and Harvard Copyright education courses. The GoDown is a place for everyone.

Client: The GoDown Arts Centre
Status: Feasibility study June 2017
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Visuals: White Arkitekter

Breaking grounds in democracy to pave the way for public space.

Dialogue that shapes design

While one aim was to provide an improved home for artists and creative industries, another was to offer valuable public services that anchor the building in community life. Through physical workshops and online initiatives, ideas and wishlists were generated from The GoDown community. This included artists and creative entrepreneurs, as well as school children, local businesses, city representatives and the general public. This process is an ongoing dialogue, so the resultant designs are continually energised, refreshed, and reflected upon.


The vision is for the new GoDown Arts Centre to be a vibrant space for culture, and living room for Nairobians, Kenyans and their guests.
Ulrika Stenkula, Project Architect

The new GoDown arts centre is organised around three courtyard levels. The largest at ground floor is designed as an impressive welcoming space. This main courtyard can accommodate hundreds of visitors, and includes a corner for children, art activity and play. This area also connects an exhibition space, library, auditorium, museum, atelier and offices. The auditorium itself is an interesting architectural object within the main courtyard, complete with a rooftop restaurant. A grand staircase leads upwards to a second courtyard of dance rehearsal and creative studio spaces. In the third and most intimate courtyard are visual artist studios, arranged in duplex-formations. Underground vehicular parking free up the courtyards for leisure activities, such as open-air performances and skating. Additional film and music studios are also situated at basement level.

The universal algorithm

The main façade, as well as the spatial organisation around the courtyards, take their inspiration from fractals. These mathematical patterns are the building blocks of the natural world, yet they also reoccur in the human environment. From the arrangement of villages, to hair braiding patterns; fractals are omnipresent in African and Kenyan culture. The permeability of the façade helps convey the idea of openness, even though the entire centre can be locked down out-of-hours. Façade detailing options are currently being investigated in collaboration with the local architects at Planning Systems and The GoDown’s resident artists.

A key achievement of the GoDown Arts Centre has been the establishment of meaningful relations with diverse Nairobi communities through continuing engagement, as well as enhancement of singular and cross-cultural activity. The push for self-understanding and comprehensive cohesiveness means we now have more self-aware, integrated neighborhoods that enhance Kenyan artistic and cultural life.

A democratic project, funded by many

The realisation of the New GoDown Arts Centre is dependant on crowdfunding. Read more about the process and how you can contribute here:

Contact & Team

Raimo Joss

Raimo Joss


+46 766 39 46 59

Carl Bäckstrand

International Director

Filip Sudolsky


Dirk Noack

Architect/ Project Manager

Jan Wijkmark

Sustainability Strategist

Viktoria Walldin

Social Anthropologist

Johan Dahlberg

Sustainability Strategist

Yara Hormazábal Cortés


Erik Miron

Landscape architect

Ulrika Stenkula

Marta Bohlmark

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