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Department of Spatial Planning

Joint article by Moritz Kasper and Sophie Schramm

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Roadside stalls selling plastic jerry cans in the Kariokor area in Nairobi © Moritz Kasper​/​TU Dortmund
Roadside stalls selling plastic jerry cans in Kariokor, Nairobi (2021)


Storage city: Water tanks, jerry cans, and batteries as infrastructure in Nairobi

Key Words

Electricity, infrastructure, Nairobi, storage, water



Against the ‘normative concept of the networked city’, urban studies and infrastructure research
have seen a shift towards investigations beyond the network that engage with the post-networked
city, heterogeneous infrastructures, and other situations ‘on, off, below and beyond’ the grid, espe-
cially in southern cities. Expanding on debates around southern urbanisms and their socio-technical
infrastructures, we explore a ubiquitous yet rarely discussed element of contemporary urban infra-
structures: storage. In Nairobi, a city shaped by infrastructural heterogeneity and uncertainty,
households of all backgrounds and sizes store water and electricity within various constellations of
actors, practices and artefacts. We show how domestic storage, its artefacts and practices cumulate
in a storage city that is not opposed to a networked or post-networked city but rather entangled
with it. We present domestic storage as crucial infrastructure to the socio-technical functioning of
Nairobi, discuss diverse storage artefacts and practices, and highlight how a focus on storage can
contribute to re-imaginings of infrastructural articulations beyond networks and flows.

Here you may find the full article in the journal Urban Studies.