Lamu Museum
University of Nairobi - Kenya
Drawings, plans, elevations
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Introduction Why Lamu: a. I'ts a heritage site Lamu is the oldest and the best preserved living settlement among the Swahili towns on the East African coast. Its buildings and the applied architecture are the best preserved and carry a long history that represents the development of Swahili technology. b. Lamu seascape Lamu seascape is home to five species of sea turtles, Green, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Loggerhead- all of which are red listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered. Problem statement Tourism in Kenya has been adversely affected by the recent terrorist attacks since 2010. The number of visitors to Kenya fell by about 25% in the first five months of 2015. Visitors’ numbers fell from around 318,278 to 284, 278 from January 2014 to May 2014, a drop of 25.4 %. These are figures obtained from the Kenya Tourism Board. Lamu County being a heavy reliant on tourism has similarly been hard hit by these attacks. Most hotels and beaches are deserted and dependants on tourism now survive on a few domestic and international tourists. Problems to be addressed by the project: 1. Terror attacks 2. Overcrowding During major cultural events like Maulidi festival and the Lamu Cultural festival which attracts around 30,000 people, Lamu town is overcrowded and the public spaces and museums’ facilities are stretched to their limits. 3. Retrofit buildings Despite the fall in tourism, Lamu still has a problem in the facilities they use to display their history. Currently, the exhibits are conserved and displayed in retrofit buildings dispersed in the old town: the Swahili Museum, the German Postal Museum, Lamu Fort and the Mwana Arafa (veterinary house). During the major cultural festivals the current museums’ facilities are stretched to their limits. Project justification Despite the dire situation of tourism in the county, the construction of the LAPSSET (Lamu port-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport) project is giving locals hope that tourism will get back to its feet. The proposed museum, a 21st century facility, will be in line with the regional vision and it will complement the LAPPSET project in bringing more tourists to the county. The museum will attract more scholars due to the availability of archival data and information on the proposed resource centre. Moreover, the museums ability to accommodate large numbers of visitors will reduce congestion during the major cultural events as well as high tourism seasons. Hence, attract more visitors since they will be assured of comfort, relief and easy manoeuvrability in their visit. Why Lamu Island? The island probably has the most ancient and best-preserved examples of Swahili architecture in East Africa. 1. Lamu island is the most populated of the islands in Lamu county. 2. It has the administrative headquarters of the County, Lamu town. 3.Most of the historic sites in the archipelago are concentrated within Lamu Island. Client National Museums of kenya
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